A new survey by The Shipping Professional Network in London (SPNL) has shown that young professionals are less confident about the markets in which they operate, with fewer of them expecting any major investments or significant developments over the next 12 months compared to the stats from the survey performed in 2013.
The respondents working in the shipowning, shipbroking, ship management, chartering, advisory and associated industries in London recorded an overall confidence level of 6.2, out of a maximum possible score of 10, in the markets in which they operate. This compares with the rating of 6.4 recorded when the survey was run previously, in September 2013.
On a scale of 1 to 10, respondents expressed an overall expectation of 5.8 when asked to gauge the likelihood of their business making a major investment or significant development over the next 12 months. This compares with the 6.4 recorded two years ago.
”The level of confidence expressed by young shipping professionals working in the London market has declined over the past two years, since SPNL first canvassed their views. This is disappointing, although not surprising given the events of the past two years. But it is still a result which would please a lot of other industries,” Claudio Chistè, chairman of SPNL, said.
Respondents were also asked for their opinion of likely rate movements in the tanker, dry bulk and container ship markets over the course of the next year. 35% overall thought that tanker rates were likely to increase, as against 50% in the 2013 survey. In the dry bulk sector, 35% of respondents overall expected rates to increase, down on the 45% recorded in 2013. 29% of respondents overall expected rates to rise during the next 12 months in the container ship market, compared to 31% in 2013.
”Shipping faces serious challenges on a wide variety of fronts – from overcapacity, competitive pressure and environmental concerns, to political unrest and strict regulatory oversight. The industry has responded well, with its traditional blend of practicality and entrepreneurialism, and will doubtless continue to do so,” Chistè said.
”There are reasons to be cheerful. The net sentiment gleaned from our survey in terms of the prospects for rate improvements over the next 12 months is positive in the three main tonnage categories. Over 45% of the young professionals who responded rated the prospect of their business making a major investment over the next 12 months at 7 out of 10, or higher. That is not an indicator of a moribund industry; rather it is a vote of confidence.”
Respondents identified competitiveness, taxation and the ability to adapt to a fast-changing environment as the three leading challenges for London to remain a relevant global maritime centre, as they were in the 2013 survey.
Some urged London to establish stronger partnerships with Asian maritime hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong, and to use this as a springboard to the rest of Asia. At the same time, London was cautioned not to let its best, most experienced people migrate to Asian maritime centres, and to be aware of the effect on its competiveness of operating and employment costs.
The survey, organised in conjunction with international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens, also revealed a broad consensus that London’s status of a a relevant maritime global centre would be strengthened by the U.K.remaining part of the European Union.