Marine surveyors are professional service providers who have several attributes to offer their clients. One is their technical skills, gathered over many years of hands-on experience in the marine industry, the other and probably the most important is their professional integrity. A client relies implicitly on the surveyor’s integrity when they read a report stating the findings of the surveyor following an inspection. Integrity gives the client confidence that the contents of any report are the independent findings of the surveyor and these findings are free from any outside influence. Such outside influence may be pecuniary, promissory or political in nature. A conflict of interest is the term most would associate with any form of outside influence.
What is a conflict of interest? All professional service providers; lawyers, accountants, medical specialists and marine surveyors all owe a duty of loyalty to their clients. Who is the client? In exploring the duty of loyalty of marine surveyors, the client is the person or body who has a contract with the surveyor to provide independent services for a monetary consideration. What does the surveyor owe the client? The surveyor owes their client, for the duration of the contract and in most cases beyond, a duty to serve the interests of their client to the exclusion of all others including themselves. How does a conflict of interest manifest itself? Any form of pecuniary, promissory or political reward that may be used to induce the surveyor to retain or change information which their client has contracted them to seek out and such retention or change would cause a detriment to the client and an advantage, no matter what the form, to the surveyor.
When identifying what is a conflict of interest, in the case of a marine surveyor, these questions need to be asked:
1) Would a reasonable and fair-minded person perceive that the surveyor’s interests might be favoured in the exercise of their duties and responsibilities to the client?
2) Do I have a contractual or familial relationship with a party other than the contracted client who may benefit from the findings or observations identified in the survey report given to that contracted client?
3) Would your insurance cover you in the event of a claim against you that involves negligence arsing from a conflict of interest?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then a conflict of interest exists. A conflict of interest does not necessarily need to be direct. A perception of a personal benefit can be enough for a conflict of interest to be deemed to be present. If the trust placed in the integrity of a marine surveyor is placed into question, either from a direct or indirect perception, then the client can and will form a view that a conflict of interest is present and question the veracity of any reports presented and place the integrity of the surveyor in serious doubt.
The consequences of a finding of a conflict of interest can be severe and far reaching. The reputation of a marine surveyor, which is generally the most important commodity that a surveyor has to sell to a client, can be broken and lost in one simple action. Rarely are we remembered for our successes, but no-one forgets our failures. Even a perception of conflict of interest is a difficult stain to wash away. The stain will always be there no matter how hard we scrub. A loss of professional accreditation with either AMSA or a professional industry body such as AIMS can result in a severe loss of trade and business. Industries and regulatory bodies also have their integrity at stake if any of their members are found to have committed acts involving conflicts of interest and that body allows them to remain a member or to maintain their accreditation and not address the issue involving a conflict of interest.
Marine surveyors, like all professionals, require the maintenance of their professional integrity to continue in business. The relationship that marine surveyors have with their clients in more than a mere transactional one. The relationship is one of trust. Our clients trust us to deliver to them an independent opinion, free of outside influence, which enables them to make large financial decisions. If that trust is eroded or broken by the actions of the surveyor where those actions have been influenced by a conflict of interest, either direct or indirect, then both parties will be exposed to severe negative consequences, both financial and reputational. Such consequences can have been avoided at the beginning of the relationship by declaring the conflict to the client with an explanation as to why such a conflict exists. Identifying a conflict of interest before engaging with a client means your integrity and reputation remains intact allowing you to continue in a field which we all enjoy working in.
By Eric McIlwain
We are introducing the Accredited Grain Surveyor (AGSA) scheme on the 1 July 2022. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment are working with the Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors (AIMS) and representatives of Australia's shipping and grain export industries on implementing the scheme.
Read about the key information related to the AGSA scheme.
AIMS have released a new short course – General and Break Bulk Cargo Surveys, providing information on shipping and industry operations presented in such a way that Marine Surveyors without a seagoing background can understand.
Course content includes the process of preparing a quality marine survey report, marine insurance and shipping arrangements, the skills and knowledge to undertake insurance surveys as well as those required to undertake general and break bulk surveys such as palletised, bagged or strapped cargo plus so much more.
This course is delivered via remote learning and can be balanced between work commitments on a part time basis. To find out more contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.aimsurveyors.com.au/Marine-Survey-Short-Courses
Few would argue that a quality boat survey involves a vast degree of technical knowledge and industry experience from the marine surveyor. When engaging a surveyor, you are looking for peace of mind not only in the condition and integrity of your potential purchase, but also that your family and friends are going to be safe onboard. There’s a lot riding on the outcome of a survey, and choosing the right surveyor is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Did you know that within the recreational boating industry in Australia, there is no minimum requirement of qualifications and/or training required for marine surveyors? There is also no licencing or regulatory body verifying a surveyor’s credentials. The recreational survey industry is self-regulated, a fact unknown by many, but vitally important to consider when engaging a surveyor for the first time.
What does it mean to be a self-regulated industry?
Within the industry it is up to the members of the industry to monitor their own professional and ethical standards. There is no independent regulator setting the minimum standard and monitoring compliance. There is no oversight of the actual qualification of an individual to carry out a particular survey. Therefore, there is also minimal protection for consumers engaging a surveyor who may be unaware of this important fact.
Perhaps you already knew this, or perhaps this comes as quite a surprise, but either way knowing this still doesn’t help in choosing the right surveyor for you.
Avoid that sinking feeling!
The good news is the Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors (AIMS) can assist in taking the guesswork out of choosing an independent ‘professional surveyor’. AIMS are the peak industry body for marine surveyors in our region with members throughout Australia, almost 500 in fact. To become a member of AIMS, surveyors must provide evidence of qualifications and experience and are awarded levels of membership based on this.
All members must adhere to a Code of Professional Practice and comply with requirements of yearly professional development activities to maintain their membership - you wouldn’t expect anything less from a professional. AIMS have even taken the next step to provide Certification to highly qualified members who also submit to a yearly audit of their professional insurance and business management systems. The absolute peace of mind!
What does all this mean for you?
AIMS is setting the framework of regulation lacking elsewhere within the recreational survey industry, allowing you to make an informed choice in your next marine surveyor.
Want to know if your surveyor is a member of AIMS? Why not ask them, each member will hold a Certificate of Membership and/or Membership stamp which are issued yearly. Or contact the team at AIMS to check if your surveyor is a member or to locate a member in your area. Visit our website www.aimsurveyors.com.au or phone 02 6232 6555.
What’s more, if you are thinking of visiting the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show this year, come and say hello. We’ll be there with some of our members to answer all your survey related questions.
The first edition for 2022 of our Shipshape Newsletter is out now. Find out all the latest news from our Executive team, as well as some highly informative articles.
Shipshape March 2022
The Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors (AIMS) announces the resignation of its CEO, Mrs Susan Hull with effect from Thursday 10th February 2022. Mrs Hull leaves the AIMS to pursue new opportunities after almost 9 years of dedicated service to the peak industry body for Marine Surveyors in the Australasian region.
AIMS Chairman of the Board, Mr John Holden, expressed his sincere thanks to Mrs Hull.
“Susan has made significant contributions to the growth and maturity of AIMS during her tenure,” he said.
“Susan’s dedication and commitment to supporting members and advocating for Marine Surveyors within both government and shipping industry sectors, and her unwavering determination and focus has had immense positive impacts, not only with members, but more broadly within the marine surveying profession.”
On behalf of the AIMS Board, and membership at large, I wish Susan all the best for the future.”
Mrs Stacey Taylor, the AIMS General Manager, now becomes the primary point of contact within the Institute with Mrs Hull’s departure.
“Building upon the foundations laid down by Susan Hull, the AIMS board looks forward to working with Stacey to grow the institute and consolidate current and future projects that will benefit members well into the future,” Mr Holden said.
I am writing to let you know that after careful consideration over the Christmas break I decided that my time with the AIMS had run its course and that it was time for me to move on. On the 18th January I tendered my resignation as CEO to the Board of Directors. My resignation was accepted and my last day of work will be Thursday February 10th 2022.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the members who, over the years, have supported me in delivering the outcomes that the AIMS has achieved and for trusting my abilities in leading the Institute for almost 9 years.
To the students at the Institute, past and present, I say well done! It has been a pleasure to work with you all and help you through that journey. You should be very proud of your achievements and I know you will continue to strive for excellence in your respective fields.
To those long standing members who have been alongside me from the beginning - please accept my deepest gratitude for all you have done for me during my tenure here.
The assistance you’ve provided me with and the insight you’ve shared in the wonderful field of marine surveying has been invaluable to me and has been the basis of the successes that the AIMS has achieved to date. I have considered you all as mentors on both professional and personal levels, and I have learned so much about the maritime industry, its wonderful people and the unique profession known as Marine Surveying.
I will miss the crazy happy times at conferences and events, the weekend and late night calls, the good times and the not so good, the debates and the laughs. All have formed part of a truly unique experience and I will cherish the friends that I have made and will forever remember them and my time here.
I would like to say that it has been a pleasure on my end to serve as the CEO and to contribute to the fulfillment of the Institutes goals and objectives over the past 9 years. I am confident that I am leaving the AIMS in a strong position and am sure that the Board will continue to achieve new milestones in the years to come.
I would like to thank my peers and colleagues in other maritime institutions, Government agencies and related industry associations for their guidance and cooperation and willingness to collaborate for the betterment of the industry. I encourage you all to continue to work with the AIMS in achieving the high standards of marine surveying that the AIMS members have a reputation for and to view the future of Certified Marine Surveyors as a positive move for the maritime industry as a whole.
With the most humble and profound gratitude for the respect afforded to me I say goodbye to you all, and again, I wish the members and the Board all the successes possible. Please know that I will continue to cheer from the sidelines as these successes come to pass.
With the greatest respect and gratitude,
Chief Executive Officer
It has been over 12 months since we commenced our partnership with Austbrokers Countrywide to provide our members with access to competitively priced tailored Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurance through professionals who understand our industry and the needs of our members.
Over the past 12 months many members have taken advantage of the service offered by Austbrokers for their Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurance requirements.
We are hearing the feedback from members though, particularly small to medium operators, that more is still needed in the provision of affordable insurance options, and we are continuing to work with Austbrokers towards this goal.
In order for insurers to offer a reduction in premiums, we need to firstly centralise our members purchasing power to create a ‘pool’ purchase. The larger the pool the greater the ability to reduce average premiums inside that pool. The idea being then we can leverage off the size of our pool to get a better deal, particularly for those small or part time operators where the price of insurance is often not commensurate with the volume of work undertaken.
We will soon be updating our website to include an online quote form which can be submitted directly to Austbrokers and you can receive a personalised call back at a time that suits you to discuss your insurance needs.
As previously communicated, Wade Cadman who has been our Account Manager up until mid this year has taken another role within the industry, and we are fortunate to have two Managers at Austbrokers available to help our members:
Imesha Perera, Account Manager- Professional Risks
Phone 03 9835 1379
Office: 03 9835 1300
Mobile: 0422 701 483
Greg Hansen, Director – Professional Risks
Phone: 03 9835 1310
Office: 03 9835 1300
Mobile: 0437 410 810
While Greg has been busily assisting our members since Wade’s departure, Imesha has recently joined the Austbrokers teams and has over 15 years’ experience in the insurance industry with much of her experience specialising in Professional Indemnity insurance across various roles in Underwriting and Insurance Broking.
She has a good understanding of the profession and has developed strong relationships with the Professional Indemnity insurers that specialise in Marine Surveyors PI both locally and overseas and can assist in obtaining multiple quote options on behalf of AIMS members.
She can advise on policy coverage, conduct contract reviews and answer any questions AIMS members may have on their Professional Indemnity Insurance policy.
Please get in contact with Imesha and she will be happy to assist with your queries.
Did you know that there is no regulatory body overseeing the qualifications, experience, or professionalism of marine surveyors within the recreational vessel industry? The Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors ask for proof of qualifications and experience from surveyors upon joining and awards levels of membership based on this. We also train marine surveyors, offering Diploma courses across all specialisations of the industry. As well as all this AIMS members must undertake Continuing Professional Development every year to maintain their membership as well as abide by our Code of Professional Conduct. We’re doing our bit to help consumers in their search for a quality marine surveyor, search our website for your next surveyor or message us to help you out.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), in collaboration with the Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors (AIMS), is updating the Export Control (Plants and Plant Products) Rules 2021 (Plant Rules) to improve export bulk vessel survey and inspection practices.
The updates will provide greater assurance that bulk vessels comply with agricultural export legislation. Under the changes to the Plant Rules, the qualifications, experience and evidence required to become an Accredited Grain Surveyor under the AGSA scheme will change from 1 July 2022.
The below factsheet provides details on the changes to qualifications and experience for Accredited Grain Surveyors upon initial application and for ongoing maintenance.
Applications for accreditation will open via the AIMS website from the 1st May 2022 and all existing accredited grain marine surveyors will need to apply under the new scheme. For any queries please contact AIMS at email@example.com.
Fact sheet - AGSA marine surveyor accreditation
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