This month we spoke to Keith Ball, Senior Analyst at Infospectrum’s office in Saskatoon, Canada. He shared with us his take on working at Infospectrum, and the challenges faced by the shipping industry at the moment.
Keith started his career in the finance department of a prominent international fertiliser exporter in Canada, before moving into marketing, with responsibility for the company’s Latin America marketing activities. operations.
“Shipping and logistics were a vital aspect of the company’s business, and once I was bitten by the shipping bug, I was hooked!”
Not long after, Keith had assumed responsibility for the company’s chartering activities, and would subsequently join Canada’s largest dry bulk vessel owner as a chartering broker. Keith eventually re-joined his previous company where he assumed overall responsibility for chartering and vessel operations.
“One aspect of my role involved dealing with various charterparty and bill of lading claims, and so I enrolled in a short maritime law course. I developed such an interest in this area of law that I eventually obtained a master's degree.”
Wanting to build on his experience to develop a career in the counterparty risk assessment sphere, Keith joined Infospectrum in late 2018.
“In my previous role, I had been a long-time user of Infospectrum’s reports. The level of detail and analysis had always impressed me and played a key role in , so when the opportunity came up, I was excited to join the team.” sion-making process
Keith has first-hand experience of how vital it is in shipping to know who you are dealing with. While working for his previous company in Singapore, the owner of a vessel that was carrying the company’s cargo became insolvent and the vessel was arrested.
“This was in the ‘old days’ of shipping when vetting was minimal. The arrest of the vessel caused a significant disruption to our supply chain; ownership vetting and compliance became a high priority after that experience.”
Keith credits his inquisitive nature as a key strength in performing due diligence research.
“I’m a naturally curious person, so ascertaining the ownership structure of an organisation, which in shipping can often be obscured and complex, is right in my wheelhouse.”
Timing is typically a critical component in shipping and clients rely on Infospectrum’s due diligence information and assessments as a key part of their pre-fixture processes. In chartering, counterparties may have as little as 24 hours to agree a fixture, including the vetting process. Keith says that this is where Infospectrum’s large Databank of existing reports covering companies across numerous sectors and our experienced team of over 40 Analysts allows clients to instantly access vital information and intelligence on potential or existing counterparties.
"Over the course of 20+ years, Infospectrum has amassed what is regarded as the shipping industry’s most extensive counterparty risk assessment database, which is expanding daily with the addition of new records and report updates. In instances where we are asked to research a company for the first time, our global network of contacts and reference sources allow us to provide valuable insight in short order.”
Although Keith’s expertise is in the dry bulk and fertiliser segments, working at Infospectrum gives exposure to various different segments and aspects of shipping.
“Prior to joining Infospectrum I only had a peripheral knowledge of the tanker and inland barge industries; however, I have since learned a great deal about these sectors, and benefit from the support of our in-house experts.”
Compliance, whether internal or external, has taken on increased importance in most industries and organisations over the last 20 years, and shipping is no exception.
“When I am speaking with contacts at the company I am writing on or with market sources, more and more people recognise the value that comes with greater transparency, and I always appreciate when people acknowledge Infospectrum’s role in this regard.”
Outside of work Keith enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, which in the summer means time on their boat at the lake, while winter evenings are mostly spent at the hockey rink cheering on their sons’ hockey teams.
Infospectrum has the largest Databank of shipping and commodities risk appraisal reports in the industry. View our latest reports by clicking the link below: