Guest Blog: Mervyn Bowden – Honest views and transparency

How many people, in the energy sector or elsewhere, would like to say what they really think about matters affecting their businesses or discipline on a day-to-day basis? With comments […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

How many people, in the energy sector or elsewhere, would like to say what they really think about matters affecting their businesses or discipline on a day-to-day basis?

With comments clearly comes responsibility.

There are constantly developing and prevailing scandals within the political world about honesty and transparency but these, unfortunately, also impact how people in the energy sector think, act and speak.

Political correctness is, regrettably, rife in many areas. The energy sector is somewhere in the realms of politicians, estate agents and bankers in the public perception – and of course, double-glazing salesmen.

Fear of negative impacts?

There are many issues in the energy sector which would benefit from the massive amount of intelligence and experience which I believe is often lost through organisations’ unwillingness to take part in the debate for fear of potentially creating negative impacts on their businesses.

In the context of the forthcoming TELCAs, these are outstandingly important issues and they make you think about some of the accepted practices in industry and commerce in quite a sanguine way – nothing is, or most probably will be, what it seems, whether it be in energy or the wider press when it comes to public comment…

I’ve noticed a major difference, having moved from the corporate world to the consultancy space, in what I’m able to say in the media – hence (maybe) my blogs and the ability to speak at conferences far and wide.

The corporate world

As part of a corporate environment one is, understandably, tied to only expressing views shared by the company concerned. This is clearly limiting to the more creative and visionary individuals who would like to persuade a wider audience than perhaps just their immediate in-house departments.

This approach is undoubtedly correct from a corporate or brand protection perspective but it stifles what could be some honest and interesting views.

The consultancy world

As part of a consultancy environment, no one can be truly independent when advising companies and organisations in very diverse spaces but the decision-making process on what can or cannot be put in the public domain is closer to home!

There are, again, many limiting factors however the drivers on what is said will be more about mitigation of negative influence on who the consultant is dealing with or, indeed, promotion of views which will help  in supporting future business generation. They may even be a powerful influence on representative bodies to which the individual belongs to.

No one can be totally independent

My point here – no-one can claim to be totally independent. The absolute priority, as with the forthcoming Code of Conduct for TPIs mandated by Ofgem, is to ensure that all parties in the mix understand quite openly and honestly “who is working for who” and where the financial influences lie.

Is this unreasonable? Independence will always be a qualified status for the vast majority of people.

The TELCAs

This is a strong thread which runs through the imminent TELCA awards. For me as Chair of Judges – and I’m sure from the perspective of the other judges who are contributing their time, knowledge and experience – it’s about how the TPIs who’ve entered can maintain an open, honest and transparent way of dealing with their customers.

Not only that but for all parties, including Energy Live News itself – as the very successful organisers of the process – to be upfront in the influences on their businesses and proving that ethical and transparent financial processes prevail for customers, suppliers and TPIs to achieve a complete win, win, win situation.

If companies are honest and transparent, surely that makes comment in the public domain – given sensible and ethical governance – all the more constructive, educational and provides an influence to the wider community?

It should help take things forward and not, as is often the case, be a “case for the defence”…

I rest my case.

Mervyn Bowden is the Chair of Judges for TELCA and Managing Director of Intuitive Energy Solutions Ltd.