This month we were in conversation with Efthymios Yfantis, Senior Analyst at Infospectrum’s London office, who shared what it’s like to work in shipping along with his industry predictions for the year ahead.
To kick off our discussion, we asked Efthymios when his shipping career began and how the industry has changed since then. ‘I joined Infospectrum in 2016 following a period working for a Greek shipping business. At the time of my arrival, the dry bulk market was depressed but in the early stages of recovery’, he begins. ‘On the other hand, the tanker market had boomed in 2015 but was ready to go into its recession in mid-2016. After having experienced a number of cycles and having seen a number of different patterns and behaviours, I have learnt to focus my analysis predominantly on the macro level and assess risk mainly per sector and segment. I am mostly covering the Greek market and my experience so far has taught me that the right management of resources is one of the key factors underpinning a consistent performance; there are a number of companies whose business model has shown some vulnerability during periods of weak market conditions, however the proper utilisation of resources has led to growth without any material detriment to meeting obligations’.
Efthymios’ role is also varied and ever-evolving. ‘The need to understand a range of sectors and the fact that the work is so diverse gives us great exposure to commodities, owners, traders, and a number of other players’, he explains. ‘In fact, there’s constant monitoring of the market, and following and seeking to understand market movements is what makes the role the best for me’.
Efthymios emphasises how Infospectrum’s culture actively encourages curiosity and promotes learning. ‘We are constantly trying to improve and monitor the market to see what’s going on with supply and demand in the commodities market, supply of vessels, and trying to predict what will happen in the short-term future next year.’
He adds that London is one of the best places to be when it comes to industry networking events as one of the major shipping hubs, and recommends both London International Shipping Week and IP (International Petroleum) Week. Outside of the UK, Efthymios recommends Posidonia in Athens, Greece, which is run every two years. ‘It’s a great opportunity to meet people and learn about the future of shipping.’
We were keen to ask Efthymios what keeps shipowners awake at night, to which he replied ‘the availability of capital from different sources to trigger fleet expansion, fluctuations in the market — not only for achieving profits — but also for covenant coverage, marine fuel availability and the switchover to low-emission fuel, and sanctions.’
Moving on to the subject of IMO 2020, Efthymios went on to describe its possible impact, as well as revealing his industry predictions for the year ahead: ‘one consequence of IMO 2020 preparations is the availability of HSFO (high sulphur fuel oil), which is being impacted by reduced storage and vessel capacity. We're also seeking to monitor increases in oil trading activity and additional product tanker demand that has already commenced with the potential to last up to late 2020/early 2021.’ He adds, ‘with the current trend pointing to a moderate fleet expansion for the rest of the year, demand is likely to exceed supply, working in favour of products tanker rates.’
He shared some valuable advice for those interested in pursuing a career in the industry. ‘I’ve never taken a single class in shipping. My financial background and MBA, together with the right training and the experience and passion for the industry have prepared me for Infospectrum. Follow whatever you think you’re good at and follow what you’re passionate about.’
Outside of work, Efthymios enjoys playing basketball and keeps active by going to the gym and doing boxing and spinning. ‘When I’m able to combine all of these together, it’s ideal for me.’ He is also a keen sports journalist, and loves to travel whenever he can. ‘I’ve done a number of trips to attend and cover major sporting events, mainly basketball, which is my passion.’
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