Updated: Dec 26, 2019
"It is not wrong to not know it, wrong is when you know it and still do it", I always say this when I am mentoring a group of trainees. In the last group, a young entrepreneur asked me to repeat what I just said and only then I realized the depth of what I wanted to say.
What I mean to say is that it is ok if you don't know everything, no one does ! The problem is when you don't want to ask or you don't want to admit that you don't know it. I am talking about brokers who do not understand the extent of damage they cause when they forward the "email-offer" to everyone on their list, most of them are in turn brokers !
Let me give you a piece of conversation: (out of respect for that person, I apologize for posting it here but trust me I am only helping )
Gentleman: Shanu, trust me my buyer is a BIIIIIIIIG company
I: Are they a major trader like Vitol, Mercuria, Gunvor etc or end user ?
Gentleman: I don't know yet but they are very big.
I: <speechless for a moment> How on earth can you know they are big if you don't even know who they are?
Gentleman: Oh, my direct contact who is direct with them told me !
Maybe when you read it here, you can understand how grave this situation is. Normally, I am a very calm person, but two things I cannot tolerate are
2. Someone not doing their homework
Sorry to say but those of us who are actually doing this commodity trading have become egoistic and those who are not actually doing any real business are not doing their homework.
Today I am going to tell you how to do the homework:
1. Do not be hasty or greedy - Do not just forward anything before doing proper due diligence. Try your best to find out everything about the offer you received, the name of the company (if they mention another company, verify with them), their address, their website, how old they are by checking the domain name on whois.com etc.
Cangem always performs an extensive 6 step due diligence process that has always worked for us. So, now we can easily decide to move ahead or deny dealing with the prospect.
2. Think why would a multinational mining corporation or a well known refinery email "SCO" and not just approach public listed corporations that, they know, can perform. THEY JUST WON"T.
So, sorry to burst your bubble, the offer you received might just be FAKE. Unless you confirm with the principal company (that most of the times no one does), you can never know if the offer is genuine. Now, depending upon what you are asking and how you are asking, you may not even get a reply.
3. Have you ever tried to contact refineries or "end sellers"? For many of you, your answer is NO, maybe because you already thought that it will be a waste of time because they will never deal with brokers.
Let me first tell you how most oil refineries want to work. Well, you got one thing right they don't want to work with brokers who don't know the industry. Again I never said the refineries won't work with brokers ! Cangem Global works directly with various refineries. So, again you have to do your homework. Find out how these refineries sell, for example most of the russian refineries do not sell on CIF/FOB delivery basis and they do not issue 2% PB. Now, if a buyer approaches you and says that he is buying from an XYZ refinery in Russia CIF China and you already know that this XYZ russian refinery does not export or sell on CIF China, you already have connected the otherwise invisible dots.
Again, many refineries would just appoint small LLCs for you to deal with. Other refineries just DON"T SELL ! They work on customer owned oil and are most of the time a subsidiary of or affiliated to a major. So lets say now you received an offer on the letterhead of such a refinery, again voila ! you have connected those otherwise invisible dots.
How do I know all this?.. because long ago, one fine day when I got fed up of fake offers floating in the market, I decided to see for myself where do these fake offers come from in the first place !!!
The answer is .....from lack of knowledge. So... very simple....gain knowledge.
4. Same goes for your "end buyers" - Above points also apply similarly to buyers as well. PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD THAT LOI that you just received in email without verifying, trust me, you will be amazed that a simple in-house due diligence, without even spending thousands of dollars, can reveal tons about that LOI.
5. Do not work with a chain of brokers - The ease of closing the deal is inversely proportional to number of brokers involved. More the brokers, the harder it is. Why? There are so many reasons, the topmost being lack of trust. The brokers will not share important information pertinent to the deal thus infuriating the principals and other genuine intermediaries.
All they would ask is to sign an NCND and that too with a fake document that is not even endorsed by ICC (only genuine ICC NCND is pub 769E, a document available for sale on http://www.iccwbo.org)
When this happens, there is no way to tell how many brokers are actually lurking in there. Henceforth, there can be no telling if there is even a genuine buyer or seller present or not.
Cangem never works with a chain of brokers for the reasons specified above.
Ok I will have to keep other points for some other time, I hope this would hit as an alarm bell to those freshers too and save them from a lot of trouble, not to mention other intermediaries.