Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers

The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers established in 1911. At that time London was, as now, a center of many shipping activities and it was also a thriving port with busy berths along both banks of the Thames right up to the centre of the city. But London was not the only town where the business of shipping played an important part. At many ports, especially those involved with Britain’s extensive coal export trade, there were shipping exchanges for the chartering of tramps and offices acting as agents for them when they called. None of those provincial centers handled the volume of business transacted on London’s Baltic Exchange but they all shared a common desire to form an organisation devoted to the maintenance of the same ethical standards for which the ‘Baltic’ was famous. Thus it was that the different local associations of shipbrokers came together in 1911 and the Institute of Shipbrokers was formed. It soon became apparent that the maintenance of standards needed more than simply the mutual desire and agreement to act in an ethical manner so that a programme of education and training was devised. Having now formed itself into an organisation with the dual aims of education and the discipline involved in the maintenance of standards, the Institute was able to approach the Privy Council from whom it received its first Royal Charter in 1920. The Privy Council, whose origins go back to the 16th Century, is a uniquely British body. It is the highest-ranking committee in the country presided over by the reigning sovereign and granting Royal Charters is a small but nonetheless important aspect of its work. The charter enables the Institute as the bye-laws state “To devise and impose means for testing the qualifications of candidates for admission to professional membership by examination in theory and practice…” and to “…exercise professional supervision over the Members of the Institute and secure for them such definite professional standing as may assist them in the discharge of their duties.” The professional standing which the Institute is able to confer comprises Membership (MICS) for those who pass the qualifying examinations and satisfy the Council that they are ‘fit and proper persons’ which includes a period of service in shipping. Those who attain positions of influence in the profession may apply for promotion to Fellowship (FICS) and may then call themselves ‘Chartered Shipbrokers’. Since 1920, shipping has become more complex to the extent that the name ‘shipbroker’ which at one time was thought to apply only to those engaged in chartering dry cargo tramp ships now embraces separate specializations in tanker chartering, ship management, sale & Purchase, port agency and liner trades. Each of these ‘disciplines’ is now examined separately in the qualifying examinations. In 1989, the Institute succeeded in obtaining an amendment to its Royal Charter which permitted several changes in the bye-laws, one of which was the formation of an additional class of membership for Companies which enables the Institute truly to represent the interests of firms and corporations. The most important amendment was, however, the removal of the limitation which restricted membership only to UK and the Commonwealth so that citizens of any country in the world may now be granted admission provided they fulfill the membership qualifications. This has enabled the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers to become truly international. Further information can, of course, be obtained from www.ics.org