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28 September 2017
Retirement nowhere on radar for veteran Jones

Aged 62, Tim Jones only has three years before he must step down from the Barry Rogliano Salles (BRS) board, but he has no plans to retire from broking or the company that has been his life for 37 years.

Brother Rod (Roger) Jones of CSL Group fame probably summed up his sibling’s character when he told TradeWinds’ quarterly magazine TW+ last year that to be a broker like Tim, "you really need that ability to bang on doors, get shot down and try 50 things before you get one”.

Tim Jones has taken that doggedness into the digital age. He says delivering state-of-the-art systems for the shipping community has become a growing part of BRS’ business.
“It requires an awful lot of management time and knowledge of what is going on in the industry [and] who is doing what, meeting competitors and people who want to join you, and looking at the various proposals,” he said. “It has always been one of my passions and something that requires a lot more effort and time than I give it today.

“With traditional shipbroking under attack, we are trying to figure out ways to have revenue sources that are not brokerage commission-dependent.

“Whether that means selling knowledge, selling tools, selling consultancy, investment opportunities or all of these elements, then I want to spend more time trying to develop that. We are in this reflection mode. Where are we going and what is the future?

“We at BRS think we are extremely well placed. We are involved in the discussions and know all the actors but it is changing very quickly and there is always something coming out of the blue you never thought about.

“Everyone is talking about blockchain, but where does it fit in? Every week you have an announcement saying: ‘This is going to revolutionise the world’. A lot of it is never going to happen but we would like to be part of whatever does. If people are not paying for transactions any more, or paying less, then we have to work out how to make them pay more for knowledge.”
One big challenge facing brokerages is clients transacting direct.

“Because the [freight] indices are published, almost everyone knows where the market is," Jones said. "Good or bad, that is the way it is. So the role of discovery, which is broker-based, has diminished tremendously. Today, if you are doing a piece of business, even if it is not on a main route, you are going to make reference to the indices and figure out what your route is — 80% of this route, 20% of that.

“You have seen this with BHP leading the pack with ‘we will do it all online’. We have a lot of internal debates and it has been of interest for CSBL [Competitive Ship Brokers Ltd] because we are all in the same boat.”

Jones says companies the size of Clarksons and BRS can invest and have the manpower to respond. But small companies unable to support IT and research, and which depend totally on transactions, are in “panic mode” and in some cases are dying.

“It is all playing out now,” he said. “Those of us who anticipated [it] are saying, ‘Yes, there is change coming, so let's participate in where we are going'. A lot of brokers will disappear. We must have a sustainable business model that makes sense but we are not sure what that is.

"We are exploring whether it is selling trade flows, being able to show a client all the trades and what its competitors are doing — all these tools are available — and I want to spend more time on that.”

Source: Tradewinds

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