Friday, September 15, 2000

Accountant launches operating costs database

London shipping accountant Moore Stephens has launched a database that allows shipowners to benchmark their running costs against industry averages.

Chris Chasty, head of Moore Stephens shipping group, says, "Modern accounting techniques make it easier for shipowners to see where their money is going on running costs. But knowing how much you are spending is only part of the picture. It is much more difficult to know how much you should be spending. Opcost [the data base] will help owners and operators to budget properly and to identify areas where savings can be made."

Clients will be able to access running cost information under five main headings: crew; stores; repairs and maintenance; insurance; and administration, for most ship types.

Within each category it will be possible to drill down and get more detail, such as average spending on lube oils, or victualling. As the database develops, it will also be possible to specify costs for operating under different flags,

Moore Stephens' worldwide network acts for a substantial number of owners, operating almost all common types and sizes of ships. The raw data makes up a mountain of detailed but anonymous information on actual running costs. Now Moore Stephens has used the power of modern computers to mine that data mountain, and produce accurate industry average running cost information.

Opcost is the result of a three-year project during which input of all accounting information for running costs was standardized, and outputs defined. Any information for which there is not a statistically valid sample is filtered out.

The database has been used inhouse, to assist in benchmarking, and as an authoritative source of information to underpin expert witness services. Opcost's data allow Moore Stephens to alert clients to areas where costs do not appear reasonable, and to investigate apparent anomalies. The whole shipping industry can now benefit by sharing this unique data source, which is based on certified actual accounts, but which will not identify individual owners. It is backed by over sixty years of experience in accounting for shipping. So far, it is built on the information from some 750 vessels. Over the next year it will be expanded to include over a thousand.

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