Our first Energy Live Consultancy Conference last week was a massive hit.
We had 185 brokers representing 102 different TPIs from the large players to the smallest. That’s a quarter of the entire consultant market in one room on the same day!
Our successful event at Manchester’s Etihad stadium couldn’t have been possible without our amazing sponsors, ScottishPower, CNG and United Utilities and my heartfelt thanks to them.
But platitudes aside, what I loved about the day was the buzz from the delegates and the feeling I got that brokers had come of age.
On the day the CMA report talked about the failings in the industry, mainly targetting the Big Six, it was clear that frank conversations had to happen to ensure the market moves forward in the right way.
With the opening panel debate we had a brutally frank conversation about how suppliers have often blamed the brokers for not performing to the best standards and yet the same accusation could be levelled at them. How much transparency was actually in the market? What was the right way to inform the end user? Why was trust better between a user and TPI than their supplier?
It was great to see the room really engaged in the debate and fair play to the suppliers for being honest in their response, especially Gillian Noble from ScottishPower, who as the only representative of the Big Six, had to deal with some hostile questions.
She handled them with aplomb and honesty. Looking at it from the view of an ‘outsider’, it was clear that whatever shortcomings in communication before, things across the sector were thankfully changing. No longer could you say the brokers and suppliers were in it together.
During the breakout sessions we covered everything from the opening of the water markets to the changing climate (ahem), when it came to green energy investment. Policy, climate science and business leadership were all sessions that were packed out.
What does all that tell me?
Well it says brokers want to be informed. It says consultants want to know how to advise the end user.
It tells me the brokers have grown up.
Four years ago at the time of our first TELCA, it was fair to say the broker market was seen as the wild west. Endless stories of bad behaviour, cliques and down right dishonesty amongst consultants were the norm.
TELCA has in some small way raised standards and done something about that but most importantly the brokers have done something about it themselves.
They are getting more professional and by what I saw last week, they are succeeding in being better informed, more independent and fairer.
There are certainly a handful of brokers out there who give the vast, vast majority bad press. The ones we saw at ELCC last week are however I think the norm.
They are changing, ready for our changing energy market and I think for end users and suppliers alike, this transformation of such a vital part of the sector is without doubt, great news.