Managing the charterparty

Nov 30 2013

Following the launch CP-Desk, a sister company of DA-Desk, Tanker Operator spoke with managing editor Captain Errol Gonsalves, about the new service.

Basically, the company was set up to provide an independent service to reduce risk and manage charterparty (CP) costs. It solely focuses on one labour intensive, timeconsuming administrative aspect of the shipping industry—charterparty management.

The company said that by taking away this task, it enables owners, operators and brokers to concentrate their time and attention on vital operational issues, while mitigating the risks of commencing voyages without a duly signed contract.

Unlike online solutions, CP-Desk operation is conducted manually and the company provides a trained, dedicated team for its patented CPAudit and CP-Draw services. The teams are charged with ensuring the accuracy of the CPs and providing key management reports.

CP-Audit has been designed to minimise risk for owners and operators by eliminating CP errors. This service features a dedicated team that reads, verifies and audits the pro forma, final recap and CP drafted by a broker.

CP-Desk also provides CP-Draw, a service for brokers that focuses on the drawing up CPs. Like CP-Audit, this service provides dedicated teams that work closely with clients to ensure that CPs exactly reflect the terms of the agreement.

The process remedies the all too common industry practice of fixing the next business 'as per last,' that allows errors to flow unchecked from one CP to the next.

Capt Gonsalves, said; “As a Marcura Group company, like DA-Desk, we are a completely independent service provider with no ties to owners, charterers or brokers. As we began looking at the issue of CPs in 2011, we strongly believed that our underlying philosophy would greatly benefits owners, charterers and brokers in the drafting, verification and overall reporting of CPs. Today that has proven to be the case; our customers have confidence that we can handle their sensitive information without question.

“We also believe that in today’s environment, CPs require the personal attention of trained professionals, rather than shipping trainees, as is often the case. Thus, we established CP-Desk to give CPs the expert attention they need and to help owners, charterers and brokers limit their exposure to expensive liability issues.”

By the end of September this year, CP-Desk had signed up three major shipowners and 10 shipbrokers.


All CP types

Capt Gonsalves told Tanker Operator that the service can handle any type of CP, either standard, or private, such as company specific CPs, also in terms of voyage, timecharter and bareboat charter forms.

CP-Desk offers a service to include all vessel types and had already processed some tanker CPs by the beginning of October. “However, we understand that because of the CP administration clause, there is not always a physical CP in the tanker sector,” Capt Gonsalves explained.

He also stressed that the company’s focus is to assist with CP administration tasks and would not become involved in any legal issues. “We currently do not function in an advisory role on legal issues covering CP clauses, etc. The customer retains control in the negotiation until fixed. We handle all tasks once the fixture is completed,” he said.

CP-Desk’s operations team is based in Dubai and includes Gonsalves who is a Master Mariner with 20 years sea experince; holds an MSC from Cass Business School, London; is a Fellow at the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS), Dubai chapter; worked at DA-Desk for more than eight years implementing new customer and internal policies ensuring adherence to the company’s values, prior to starting the new venture two years ago.

“The operations manager holds a Bachelors degree in commerce; a Diploma in business management; an Advanced Diploma in software engineering and is about to complete his ICS studies. He has 14 years’ experience working in various ship agency operations capacities; global port disbursement accounts; sales and marketing for liners; freight forwarding and customer service.

The team leader is a commerce graduate from Calicut University in India; has 25 years’ experience in financial accounts and management, 17 of which have been in the shipping industry. He is at the ICS exam qualifying stage.

“The other members of the team are university graduates, all with shipping industry experience,” Gonsalves said.

Finally, he said that CP-Desk is today a separate business, but over time systems integration and a common group software platform will provide one seamless post-fixture solution- albeit with different deliverables.


Port payables

Meanwhile at the beginning of November, sister company DA-Desk launched the patented PortPayables Dashboard.

Offered at no additional cost to PortPayables clients, this Dashboard provides an at-your-fingertips comprehensive overview of all port expenditures that have been settled through its PortPayables services. The specific detailed information in the Dashboard empowers users, including controllers, finance managers, accountants, operators, and CFOs to make better informed decisions and ultimately take action, the company claimed.

“In my past experience with leading finance organisations, I often found it difficult to readily access information on expenses and suppliers precisely when I needed it,” said Domenico Carlucci, DA-Desk financial services director. “Now for the first time, our customers can have instant access to all relevant information on their port-related expenditures, including statements of account per port agent, savings generated for management accounting reports and cash flow forecasts for day-to-day practical needs.” PortPayables is DA-Desk’s cash management service. It is comprised of four pillars - DA-Accounts, DA-Forex, DACashflow, and DA-Compliance.

These four components manage all tasks related to payment, transfers, confirmation, netting, accounting and reconciliation. With the Dashboard, all relevant information from these components can be viewed in an easy to use format.

The Dashboard software provides the data points necessary to allow controllers to manage, evaluate, and enhance controls to their payment processes. In addition, it enables them to maximise cost savings through payments in local currencies rather than in US dollars and also helps to ensure that overfunded balances are being collected and that there is a robust cash flow process.

It also helps accountants respond more quickly and completely to endless internal and external reporting requests. The data can be uploaded into an organisation’s accounting system, making the accounting process much smoother.

Operators can get access to vital immediate and historical information that helps them work more effectively with port agents. Dashboard allows operators to see at a glance the latest information on agent accounts; data on overfunded agents; spend by vessel and spend by port. Having the data in one place, at their fingertips, helps operators deal with the complex and ad hoc tramp business, the company said.

CFOs can view the high-level financial picture and confirm that their teams have the information they need to monitor and streamline financial processes.

Port spend is a substantial portion of a P&L and can change the bottom line, DA-Desk stressed.

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