Professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) discussed several IMO 2020 related trends and current challenges during its recently held ‘The PwC Annual Shipping Industry Finance Update’ event in Greece.
Among topics discussed were:
According to PwC experts, shipping environmental regulations will continue to be a key challenge in the next years, with more regulations coming on a local and regional level.
Helena Athoussaki, Head of Maritime Sustainability, PwC Greece, notes the reduction of carbon emissions and the IMO 2020 regulation on low sulphur fuel dominate the agenda for shipping companies, unfortunately with many unknown parameters remaining on the table.
“Trying to assess the cost of compliance and select the best option to remain competitive, is not an easy exercise,” she states.
“Risk assessment can be done based on different scenarios and criteria, taking into consideration among others the operating profile of each vessel, the dynamics of the bunkering industry, while looking at the risk universe of the technical, operational, financial and commercial environments specific to each company.”
IMO GHG strategy constitutes another potential challenge, sending a clear signal to the industry participants that the ultimate goal is the de-carbonisation of the industry.
Companies should take measures and look into various zero-carbon technologies and fuels deployed, particularly when they finance or build new vessels since this will commit the companies for a long period of time and into the period when the new regulations for carbon emissions come into force.
They will need to assess all options, implications and risks associated with design and implement a future proof strategy. To this end, shipping companies should put in place a specific action plan for the mid-term and reflect this within their business plans and strategies going forward.
For those companies that have made the decision to install scrubbers, they will also need to face the task of assessing the accounting and reporting implications of this strategy, according to Santos Equitz, Managing Director, T&L Leader and Capital Markets, PwC Greece.
He notes this would involve the assessment of several potential accounting impacts, among others capitalisation criteria for the scrubbers and their depreciable life, impact on future cash flows for impairment testing, the likely implications of different financing options used to fund them and possible impact on the company’s going concern assessment.
Moreover, as technology continues to disrupt the way business is done, shipping finance departments should not be left behind, adds Ioannis Potamitis, Director, Applications, PwC Greece.
He explains that Systems Integration, Budgeting and Reporting & Consolidation automation are the challenges shipping firms will have to deal with when it comes to systems and performance management.
“Specifically, lack of accuracy & completeness of information is the main weakness of non-integrated systems along with the lack of a common language among different departments,” he said.
“The installation of a reporting system by itself will not resolve the aforementioned issues if the information is not accurate, timely and complete when recorded.
“Thus, the implementation of an integrated system could be the first step towards change while the implementation of a budgeting system could be the base for a common language between the operations and the finance departments.
“During the preparation for such a system implementation, the finance department should ensure that specific processes are in place and that the data is available and accurate to be migrated in the new system.”
Moving forward, PwC notes it has developed a shipping template based on latest technology which covers the areas of Finance and Procurement for facilitating shipping finance professionals.
The template has already interfaces with other industry specific applications and it includes an integrated PwC solution for Document Management with enhanced workflows and approvals.
Integration, process efficiency, timely monitoring of purchasing, inventory, cash position as well as debt and liabilities are some of the features from which finance departments can benefit. The next version of the template will also include applications for Vessel Performance Management and Plant Maintenance.
“In a constantly evolving environment, shipping businesses have to take the right decisions on a broad range of important issues such as the creation of a sustainable business environment, the improvement of operational performance, compliance with new environmental regulations, improve internal and external reporting in a timely and transparent manner and embrace the latest technology to boost returns for all stakeholders,” concludes Socrates Leptos, Partner, Global Shipping & Ports Leader, PwC Greece.
“Through its extensive experience in servicing the shipping industry, PwC has had the benefit to develop practices, solutions and insights to assist companies deal with these challenges and facilitate their decision making and through events such as our Annual PwC Shipping Industry Finance Update, we have the opportunity to share some of these insights with the shipping community.”
Photo credit: PwC
Published: 1 March, 2019
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