Energy Insights: Navigating Rising Prices and Consumer Impacts – [FULL INTERVIEW]

The energy and utility industry is undergoing significant changes, with renewable energy sources gaining dominance and increasing emphasis on consumer engagement.

In this video Ian Parry, from Future Leaders, explores key challenges and opportunities in the sector, including the impact of price caps, hedging strategies, and the evolving role of consumers as energy generators.

He discusses the need for better infrastructure to handle renewable energy surges and highlights the importance of addressing financial stress and vulnerability among consumers.

Furthermore, he touches upon the convergence of practices between financial services and utilities, highlighting the importance of customer treatment and diversity and inclusion initiatives. Overall, emphasizing the need for transparent, authentic, and inclusive leadership in navigating the changing landscape of the industry.

Find out more about Future Leaders -> Here.


Key Points

  • BP and Shell exiting the UK retail market due to concerns over long-term profitability raises questions about the market’s viability and the need for change.
  • Inadequate hedging and buying energy at high prices led to significant losses for some companies during the energy crisis.
  • The National Grid’s infrastructure needs to adapt to handle the increasing generation of renewable energy.
  • Time-of-use tariffs and consumer engagement can help incentivize reduced energy consumption during peak periods.
  • Financial stress and vulnerability among consumers require compassionate and easy access to support services.
  • Prepayment meters serve as a tool to manage debt and secure ongoing energy supply but need to be implemented responsibly.
  • Transparent, open, and authentic leadership is replacing the culture of long working hours, emphasizing work-life balance and mental health.
  • Trust between employers and employees has been reinforced through remote working during the pandemic.
  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives are crucial for better understanding customers’ needs and creating inclusive processes throughout organizations.
  • Technology, such as AI and smart home systems, can optimize energy consumption and contribute to balancing the grid.
  • The convergence of practices between financial services and utilities is evident in the focus on customer treatment and fair practices.
  • Hybrid working models can expand access to talent and attract a diverse workforce.

Key Takeaways

  1. The energy and utility industry needs to address long-term profitability concerns and embrace change.
  2. Adequate hedging strategies and price control measures are necessary to avoid significant losses and protect consumer interests.
  3. Upgrading infrastructure to handle renewable energy surges is crucial for achieving net-zero goals.
  4. Engaging consumers as energy generators and implementing time-of-use tariffs can incentivize responsible energy consumption.
  5. Prioritizing support for financially stressed and vulnerable consumers is essential for equitable energy access.
  6. Prepayment meters should be implemented responsibly to manage debt and maintain ongoing energy supply.
  7. Transparent, authentic, and inclusive leadership is essential for fostering trust and attracting top talent.
  8. Technology, such as AI and smart home systems, can optimize energy consumption and contribute to grid stability.
  9. Diversity and inclusion initiatives are vital for understanding customer needs and creating inclusive processes.
  10. The energy industry can learn from the convergence of practices in financial services regarding customer treatment.
  11. Hybrid working models offer opportunities for talent acquisition and workforce diversity.
  12. Continuous adaptation and innovation are key to navigating the evolving energy and utility landscape.
Interview Transcript

0:02
Hi, everyone, I’m here with Ian Parry today, who’s the CEO of future leaders. And Ian, I know you’ve got a huge amount of experience with both leadership but also in the utility space as well. So we’re going to chat a little bit about that. That’s, that’s been really put on your experience. And I know you also do a podcast as well. And we should give that a plug. And we just recently did a fireside chat with what the future and I know we were talking about collections day, which was you interviewing me. So this is quite nice and reverse and the tables within a week released. Although you did describe me as rather bleak, which I thought was quite funny. I think it’s the first time I’ve been described as bleak. But maybe maybe that’s an accurate description. I don’t know. So try make this one more upbeat. So So, so definitely, for sure.

0:40
Yeah, I think it was the message that was bleak, rather than you. Okay.

0:48
So we’re waiting. I’m sure this was way more upbeat. So we could pick your brains, I suppose this time round around? What are some of the key themes that you’re seeing, particularly utility space? Because I know you do a lot of work there. And collections, but also say energy and water, etc? And what are some of the key themes that you’re seeing in your conversations?

1:07
Yeah, I think we’re still seeing a lot of effort around balancing costs are served with delivering service, certainly, as well as identifying vulnerable customers, there’s a huge amount of regulatory pressure, certainly, in the energy market, the water market is going through their price review process right now as well. So there’s quite a bit going on there also. And obviously, in the energy market, there’s a lot of chatter around the using of the force fitting of prepayment metres, which is a loss on the collections consequence. So I think there’s a number of different themes there. The cost of certain things certainly huge and significant one has a knock on effect in the price that that people can offer, as well as the service that’s been delivered.

1:58
How do you think that’s particularly with I suppose, economically, we’ve had energy prices increasing for consumers, at least anyway, I’m talking really around that particular consumer, but also for businesses in the lighter cost to serve and potentially increased volumes coming through? How’s that sort of manifesting itself in terms of stress within the within these businesses? And how are they actually going to manage that? How are they managing that today? And what’s what are the dynamics I suppose you’re seeing? In the businesses?

2:24
Yeah, so I think the trading teams, so these are the teams that are physically purchasing the energy that’s gone from a back office, not really much is known about very much a front office, almost front page, news item, really, I don’t think many people knew much about hedging in the energy industry. We’re part of that, that part of the industry up until recently. So certainly, I’ve been involved in setting up a number of new energy companies. And what I’ve learned is, if you’ve got your trading, right, if you’ve got wonderful talent in the door, from a trading point of view, and you’ve got your commercial strategy, right, and that is you are buying at the right price, you are understanding your customer profiles, and by that they usage when they’re using it and what seasonality looks like and therefore you can buy at the right price. And secure your sort of ongoing tariffs and for customers, if you can get that right. It absolutely, unfortunately, dwarfs the cost of service challenge, because you can you can talk about reducing how expensive it is to run each customer. But if you get that commercial trading bit wrong, then you’ve lost. And we’ve seen that with 20 plus of the of some really good companies going bust over the last couple of years. And when you think of the likes of pure planet, for instance, they were really well backed organisation with BP as a really interested partner. And when you’ve got the likes of BP and Shell, exiting the UK retail market, because they just don’t see the long term profitability, then you’ve really got to worry. And you’ve got to start thinking it isn’t about throwing stones at these individual companies and saying these individual companies did you do better? There’s something missing there that that perhaps we need to change.

4:29
Do you think with I mean, I know that there’s quite a lot of issues. And when we had the crisis, we had a lot of fallout with companies, you know, basically exiting the market. Do you think the hedging piece was a big part of that for some companies, at least anyway, in terms of whether they were hedged correctly? Do you think some of that stuff calm down somewhat, and then we’re now into mostly its price caps versus the price of energy, which is most like the bigger issue now rather than the hedging pieces as the hedging risk side of things in under better control?

4:55
I would say mostly yes to your first question, was it that one The biggest reasons for companies going and yes, absolutely alongside as well, with the price cap, what it meant was that those that hadn’t hedged far enough into the future, were buying energy, and losing hundreds of pounds per customer. On every single day of trading, you’ve essentially got a situation where, you know, if you put it into other retail contexts, where you will be stopping Tescos from selling their tomatoes at the price that they were buying it for. So we’re not even talking about profit here, we’re talking about loss on every single customer. And therefore, unless you’ve got some very deep pockets, and this is why you’ve got BP with billions of pounds of profit being made, they’re walking away from this situation because they can’t see that it’s a profitable market to be in. Yes, hedging was a big issue. Yes, I think we’ve come out of the worst of it. And certainly what we’re seeing is OFGEM, the regulator are putting more controls in place now. So when they regulate, obviously new companies coming into the market as well, and for the first time, certainly in my living memory, we saw OFGEM, refusing licences to retail, domestic suppliers come into the market for reasons of not enough collateral, and not enough experience, not enough trading expertise within those businesses. So I think that they’re getting a little bit of better control over over that now. Because it’s pretty clear that they were not having their best day, so to speak. Well, that was going on.

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6:41
And one of the interesting aspects that took in the energy industry, as I was looking through all the different suppliers is, as far as the increasing dominance, I suppose of renewables, renewable supplies. And then if you look also at the aspirants, what’s happened with in Ukraine with the war in Ukraine is and the Reliance around hydrocarbons within Europe is it feels like there’s an increasing emphasis on solar panels or wind or those and that’s becoming an increasing proportion across Europe really, as a result of energy security. Do you think that will change the energy market going forward? And particularly for energy companies as well? Is that the future we’re looking at?

7:15
Yeah, so I think what we’re seeing is a future where generators of energy become individuals like you and me. So we become generators. Now, what we’re seeing is that the National Grid aren’t necessarily set up for that. So they are going through a huge change as well. So when we think about the energy in this country, it’s not just the energy that we consume, it’s the way in which the infrastructure is built, and how that is the purpose going forward. So for instance, if you’ve ever driven past a wind farm, and that is a windy day, but it’s not going around, that sort of the turbines are not splashing around. Very often that can be because the grid isn’t able to take the electricity that is being created that’s been created onto the grid in that time, because they just cannot deal with that surge. So they pay the wind farms, a lower rate to essentially turn off the turbines. Now we need to do something to be able to take that energy. And there’s a number of projects going on at the moment where they’re building offshore, sort of large batteries that are being set up on sort of old LP gas tankers take that energy away from the wind farms store it until the grid can take it back on. So if you win, you’ve got a situation where obviously, we need to get to this point of net zero, everybody’s doing their bit. But if the grid physically cannot handle the energy, and the green energy being created, it’s got to be stored somewhere. So it’s a combination of storage capacity, the way the grid is being moved forward and taking into the future, and engaging with us as not just consumers anymore, but also generators.

9:08
It’s interesting how there’s always like a, an extra layer underneath in terms of it’s not just the generation but then also like the lumpiness of that generates other issues and its infrastructure and those kind of things which don’t isn’t always isn’t always immediately obvious, I suppose when you actually get to think about it. Yeah,

9:23
yeah, certainly, there’s such a lot of art around the idea of a time of use tariff. So you’ve got kind of day and night, great metres that are in place in some places. But I think what you’ll see in the future is far more time of use tariffs where the grid and your retailer will be rewarding you for not using or not consuming from the grid that is at peak times. That’s generally seen as between kind of 4167 o’clock in the evening. Consuming

9:58
I’m still living In the think my mind, I’m still living in the 1970s. There used to be Peak Peak electricity usage due to boiling kettles during the middle of Coronation Street, I think it was those kinds of things which really helped buy solar power in the winter.

10:12
But it’s that’s the principle, you know, it’s looking at how do we stop ourselves from taking some of the grid during those peak times?

10:21
Strange. And then from a consumer point of view, We’ve obviously had, they’re under economic stress as well, just last week, we had inflation figures come out, the energy price seems to have moderated somewhat, but you’ve seen that flow through in terms of impact on consumers. I know, we talked before around things like vulnerability and financial stress, what are you seeing or hearing there?

10:39
Yeah, so it’s not really flowing through yet. So we saw that. So energy, for instance, came out with a new tariff, I think was last week or the week before, that was a couple of 100 pounds below the price cap, but then they quickly had to remove that, because then there was a lot going on, because of air condition usage. And therefore that sort of the gas price started to spike again. So be able to quickly take that off the market. So I think we’re still quite a bit away from that continue price down, we’re still sensitive to some volatility, volatility in the market. And therefore, consumers are not going to see a huge kick back to where we were during the pandemic, or even pre pandemic. And of course, we’ve got to remember that the best energy retailers are buying their energy months and months ahead of time, to create security to create stability in their prices, you can’t expect them to do that. And then as soon as the prices drop, they’ve got to implement that into their tariff, because that just isn’t going to work. They build a tariff that says, Hey, Ian, if you can guaranteed of use roughly within the profile that you were using, will go away and buy that energy for the market. And then at this price, they bought it in the marketplace. And then once you’ve used that they can renegotiate your usage back into the market, but you can’t really expect them to layer any reduction in when they’ve gone to the market and already purchased the energy or use it.

12:15
To get this lag effect. It does feel like just from an individual consumer point of view, it feels like it was expensive at the start of the year. And I know we’ve had issues in terms of like price caps, the subsidies coming to an end those kind of things, but the price is coming down over the summer. I mean, certainly my energy use goes down significantly, at some point in the autumn. And we’re going to have to turn it back on again, I’m a little worried about that sort of autumn into winter period in terms of how much of a shock we’re going to have. And how much do we need to prepare now, from a consumer treatment point of view within the companies around what might be coming down the pipe? How much of a concern, do you think that is? As here’s me being leaked again, but how much of a concern Do you think that is after the summer? But yeah, we have an issue in the fall. And I

12:56
think we we because of course you remember last year, there was lots of chat about organised blackouts from the grid. And they were publishing these sorts of plans that gave us gave rise to quite a lot of people buying like many batteries to keep their work life going while they were working from home as well. So I think we’re going to see higher prices for quite some time, at least for another cycle of winter, albeit that they’re not going to be as high as what they were. Then what we also are seeing now are people really taking control of their energy usage. So we saw last winter, one of the reasons why the grid didn’t have to implement some of these plans is because people’s usage really tapered off. Now, in some instances where people are vulnerable. That’s not a good thing. Because if people are living in a situation where they’re choosing between heating and eating, and they’re putting extra jumpers on, or maybe they’re living in damp conditions, and that’s not a great picture. But I think at a macro level, what we saw was less usage, and therefore that saved billions of pounds from the government’s point of view, because they did NAFTA or to the market to buy that energy. So I think we’re seeing it as you suggested, we’re seeing it tail off a little bit. But I think that this next window is still going to be a risky period, we’re still going to see energy companies trying to do more for their prepayment customers. And certainly what we’re seeing at the moment are more and more people fitting into this financially vulnerable cohort that have never been in there before. They just don’t know what services to access them. They’re likely to be feeling a lot more uncomfortable engaging in these conversations. So I think we have an obligation as a energy and water industry to reach out to these consumers in a A compassionate and understanding way. So we’re making people aware of the services that are available to them, and making the signup to those services super, super easy. So that we’re not making people jump through lots of hoops to think it’s using the data and not just credit reference agency data, we should be looking to engage with government agencies, and even having conversations with water and energy providers, because there’s certainly a crossover there. From a geography, obviously, the water companies look after a certain geography, energy companies not so much, but it’ll certainly be a crossover where they can share some information. Now, obviously, that’s not notwithstanding any privacy and data regulation. But I’d certainly think your intention is to help the consumer, then you should really be able to get beyond some of those challenges. So that so there’s that side of things, certainly, specifically to energy, then there’s a lot of work going on for prepayment customers. And there’s been work going on for a number of years for prepayment customers where they have self disconnected. Now, what that means is that the customers run out of money, they’re not topped up, and they run out of their emergency credit, the regulator has a lot of activity within the industry, to contact those customers, as soon as that happens to check in and say, Hey, is there anything we can do, and they’re certainly asked to top up those metres, particularly if they’re smart metres. And they can do remote top ups. There’s ways in which you can do one or two sort of occasions where you might offer the customer, a small pop ups, but of course, you’ve got to, you’ve got to find a good balance there, because you don’t want to put the customer further and further into debt because of the situation you’re in. So there’s certainly a balance. And I remember what I was head of collections for one or the other retailers. And you’ve got this kind of picture in front of you where you’re, you have some customers, they’re having a prepayment metre fitted. And then, because of the repayment rate and the size of the debt, they could be in debt with you for 1015 years into the future. And you think that’s just crazy that it’s not a mortgage, it’s not some sort of huge loan that just struggled to pay their energy bill through credit. And now they find themselves with a 10 to 15 year obligation to pay back their energy company. And you just think you’ve got to find a balance there, between again, going back to the cost serve going back to the fact that consumers that owe their energy company money are adding to the cost assume which adds to the cost that those that pay on time every time will have to bid.

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18:00
And I suppose just talking about prepayment metres people often on prepayment metres because they have had financial difficulties elsewhere, or they have financial difficulties. So they’re struggling keeping up with payments, just generally, I would think so it’s a way as the energy companies think guaranteeing that they can then get paid for the energy that’s used. But I know that I think the servicing of those tend to be more expensive. And I think there’s I mean, is that is that is that price differential? Is that now more equal than it used to be? Because I don’t remember it used to be higher if you’re on a prepayment metre than if you’re a direct customer, you’re a great credit risk and all of those kinds of things. And but that almost exacerbates the fact that I’ve got less money, but then I can’t I also am also paying more for my energy as well. It just doesn’t feel right to a certain extent.

18:44
Yeah, yeah. So it’s probably a couple of things. You I think the industry has done a great job in explaining some of this prepayments stuff. So number one, the way I would describe it is that a prepayment metre can be lifestyle choice. Some customers like paying by prepayment. And so that’s how I like to do it, they can control they can budget, and that’s great. Others, as you rightly say, weren’t able to handle credit as a payment method and got themselves into trouble and got the sense into debt. Now, the prepayment metre is a way of keeping them on supply and keeping their supply live, whilst also managing their debt and their ongoing, ongoing commitments. And there’s a number of years ago, what we saw was the industry switched from disconnecting customers. And if you look at the number of disconnections, these days, you talking a handful of customers that will be disconnected. So you saw the industry going from this situation of disconnecting people to essentially if they could see there was somebody in the property and quite often when when, when they’re doing these disconnection visits, they wouldn’t know if there’s anybody in the property in some of the properties they visit. It’s quite difficult to tell if there’s somebody living there or not. But they will most times then put a prepayment metre in there to secure the ongoing supply. So I think there’s a security ongoing supply to be considered there. Now, traditionally, prepayment metres were more expensive to run because you had multiple topics per week, for instance, which has a cost associated with them. So if you’re a customer going into a post office or pay zone or such, then the cost of that payment is it like a commission attached to that a cost attached to that goes directly back to the supplier, so they have to pay for that top up. You can imagine if you’re prepayment with the customer, you may top up maybe three, four or five times a month, when as a direct debit customer, you’re doing that once. Equally, the cost of the sort of the handling of our customer tends to be higher, they tend to contact you more, those metres can break down more often because of the usage through them. So the overall cost of preparing media traditionally was higher. And that’s where the tariff, and of course, the risk of non payment was high with a prepayment customer and the handling of debt and the debt provision. So yes, traditionally, there have been more, but you can look around these days, and you will find some prepayment tariffs through some retailers are just as competitive as the direct debit tariffs. So thinking you can broadly say that prepayment is still a little more expensive, but you can find deals out there to balance that out. Albeit, what we see is the prepayment that your customers are disengaged mostly from that switching cycle. And it’s quite difficult to make sure that they get the best prices they can.

21:50
And it’s quite interesting, I suppose if you look in the financial services space with FinTech and all these sort of top up sort of mechanisms are very popular things like buy now pay later and just whether how much of that can translate across into the energy sector to try and take some of the costs those extra costs out for people. And then I suppose you’ve got all the potential government support sitting in the background or prior to schemes, services schemes that would really help with some of those customers as well as subsidising as well?

22:13
Yeah, definitely. I just think it’s, it has been demonised. But it’s a tool. It’s a method to ensure that consumers get to keep using the product, because it’s a necessity, and they have the debt that they’ve incurred, money going forward. So that it’s something I think it’s easy to get some headlines out of some of the situations that the energy companies have got themselves into. But I would say broadly speaking, it’s a necessary product that needs to be there.

22:45
That’s going to ask you about that. Obviously, there are media headlines around force fitting a prepayment metres prepayment metres. What’s been the fallout from that? It sounds like what you said earlier, it’s a lot of companies have stopped doing that. And it’s an IT is that resulting in other issues? And is it really the right thing to do, despite what happened? Because it did look, it didn’t look good at the time. But it wasn’t isn’t the right thing to stop doing it.

23:08
Yeah, so again, go back to how we explain it as an industry, what sort of PR that we do. And it’s been, it’s a tough one to fight back against the headlines. Because the headlines, our debt rep says that he loves doing his job, he loves disconnecting people. And that’s not what was said, You got to get past some of these things. And you’ve got to get past the fact that quite often, once you get to the door with a warrant of entry, there’s been maybe 2030 opportunities that that the energy company has put in place to contact that customer. So if you’ve gone through 20 3040 touch points, and you still haven’t had any engagement or not any engagement that suggests that there’s any vulnerability that what more could you do now? I would argue there’s still more that we can do. We can look at. We talked about data earlier, we can look at different touch points within that area. So where you’ve got no engagement whatsoever along the line is that because somebody’s scared and fearful, and therefore there’s some vulnerability there that we need to surface? So do we need to look at the collections language and look at the collections path? Before we continue? Do we need to go and get some external data before we continue? So I think there’s more that can be done. Your other question around what’s happening at the moment? Yes, force footing and prepare metres has been stopped. And we saw this sort of thing happen two decades ago, where the supply chain for prepayment metres became much, much slower. So what we then saw was customers building up a debt and getting more and more into debt because they couldn’t manage it. And we were asking people to pay what they could do on a weekly basis going into the post office or that sort of mechanism to try and get them into the habit of paying frequently. But of course, that’s just not how it works. And if somebody has five pounds left at the end of the week, and the energy’s coming into the house without any issue whatsoever, and they’ve been told by their supplier, we can’t put a prepayment in view at the moment. Unless it’s by appointment, then it does exacerbate the situation. And it certainly did then where what we ended up with was when you get the prepayment metre installed, the size of the debts was 2030 40%, higher than what they would have been, if we’ve got the reader in the first place. The prepare media is a tool, it’s a tool for collections companies, is a tool for customers to help them to get out of debt. And the sooner that they get into that habit of paying regularly and paying down the debt for them.

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25:59
But I suppose in that case, it’s also a tool for the customer to help them control their energy usage because it comes a signal doesn’t say in terms of like how much because the big thing is, if you’re on postpaid is it comes surprise, because you’ve left the immersion on let’s say, for by mistake, I mean, we all do it, or whatever, what have I done sort of thing where it does katzie, even though you sort of you sort of you sort of do it. But I suppose going back to the media incident that happened, which is it’s It feels very easy to make broad brush statements around collections around energy companies. And it’s because but really, it comes down to everyone’s situation is different and is individual. And that’s what the energy companies have to deal with is almost like customers on an individual basis. And going back to your piece around data and AI, let’s talk a bit about tech, how far along the road you think we are in terms of getting down to almost like individualised bespoke service for for customers?

26:51
Yeah, I think we’re quite a bit away from that in energy and water. We’re still at a stage where we’re talking about digital improvement, we’re still talking about self serve. There’s a limited amount of companies that have bots in their processes, with limited application and benefit at the moment. So I think it certainly in the energy market, you have certain customers that were attracted to technology driven companies. So the likes of bulb and octopus and pure planet, they certainly attracted a certain type of customer. Now that the market is become, I guess a little bit more brand gets big six plus a number of others that are shouting for who they think their customers are, you’ve got the greener suppliers, you’ve got the standard suppliers. And you’ve got this sort of the what used to be the disruptors of the likes of overall octopus that are still shouting from the rooftops what they’re about. So I think it’s the limited application in the retail market. However, smart homes that helped to get us to net zero. That’s where we’re seeing a lot of AI. There’s a number of companies in the UK now that are balancing, battery, solar and home consumption to such an extent that in certain times of the year for prolonged periods, your energy bill could be zero, because they’re balancing that on your behalf. So there’s the AI and the algorithm that’s working, excuse me on your behalf, which in turn helps to balance the grid. Because if you’re not drawing from the grid on a daily basis, then the grid is plus one, essentially, because you’ve got more homes not consuming from the grid. That usually would have been

28:54
Yeah, yeah. And going back to financial services, we’ve had to look at financial, so we got consumer duty coming up and the FCA has put that in, a lot of that’s got to do with customer treatment, how you treat customers, looking around treating them fairly looking around vulnerability, etc. Do you think some of those ideas from financial services we’ll get translated into the utility space? I know some of them have already. But how much further do you think he’s got to go?

29:21
Yeah, so you tend to see the FCA and OFGEM, chatting and so forth, chatting about these sorts of things. And some of that being shared and interesting. In the collections space. Our collections teams tend to hear about these things more because they’re working with debt collection agencies and collections partners that are being managed in this way. So kind of the first time I heard about TCF, for instance, treating customers fairly was when I was working with a collections partner that said, Oh, hang on, we can’t do that because that’s not treating customers fairly. So it’s An interesting, it’s an interesting dynamic where you got your collections partner, almost having a higher standard of how to handle vulnerable customers, because they’re being governed by the FCA and OFGEM hasn’t quite caught up with that that or you haven’t quite caught up with that, because that’s not your that’s not where you’re specialising in.

30:22
Yeah, it feels it does feel like it’s cascading throughout the different industries, even down to local governments as well. I mean, just over time, it’d be interesting to see what happens after July, both in financial services, but then in a broader kind of aspect as well. And then lastly is going to lead ask you a little about your leadership blog and your leadership work as well. And just ask you about leadership generally, I suppose. And so what how do you think that’s changing? And what do you think the requirements are, particularly in the utility space of what kind of leadership do we need going forward? And what are going to be the key things do you think are going to be the key characteristics for future leaders?

30:53
Yeah, it’s a good question. I think what we’re seeing a lot more of now is transparent, open and authentic leadership, we’re not hearing about leaders that are getting up at four o’clock during 20 hour days, and holding perfection up as the operating model, or hearing more about our leaders talking about their mental health struggles, we’re hearing about leaders that talk about, Hey, guys, I’ve got a family. So I’m knocking off at four o’clock today. So I’m not expecting this, this craziness of working hard all of the time. Now. It’s so I think we’re seeing a shift away from the wearing how many hours work he did like a loyalty badge to that more transparent, working smarter rather than harder approach. And I think equally trust was a big issue during the pandemic. So we saw lots of people that had never worked from home, because their businesses wouldn’t allow it, having to work from home. And realising all the fears of teams working from home, didn’t really come to pass, I think we saw a lot of trust being rewarded. So yeah, I think going into the future, we’ll see a lot more of those businesses that will have that authentic, open and transparent leadership, mopping up the talent around them. And that means that kind of hybrid working would play a massive part in that because if you are a business operating with hybrid, and you can really pick people up from anywhere in the UK, or even globally, in some instances, that you can attract talent that previously you weren’t able to. Yeah, I’d also say, we haven’t really touched on Diversity and Inclusion at all. And certainly, diversity and inclusion within connections within credit risk within the energy industry absolutely needs to improve, because we will have to understand our customers. And we hear lots from CEOs of energy companies talking about, we have to represent the communities in which we live in. And so a great way of doing that is making sure that your teams are diverse, you’re operating in an inclusive way. But in a way that is legacy forming rather than tip boxing, you go away from saying, we have a black woman on our board. And that’s the check. Great, we’ve done that now. Or our HR manager is a woman, you move away from those things, and you talk more about the processes. So what about our recruitment approaches? What about our job descriptions? How inclusive, are we? And if you were to look at our processes from onboarding right away through our teams, and how are we looking after people are they designed to create the best possible outcomes for all of our people are not

34:05
just focused on diversity inclusion, it does feel even through the whole boom we’ve had around AI is the sense of being a much greater awareness around things like bias and hidden bias and those kinds of things, then, then it feels like we had before, where it didn’t seem to be like headline grabbing tick box exercises. And but I think that deeper understanding that these are cultural understanding makes it makes a big difference in some of those kinds of areas. Because, yeah, definitely, definitely the trust of the trust aspect, having worked in collections, it’s very easy to think that everyone’s not paying whereas the factors always remind people that the vast majority people are good people, even the people in collections are good people as well. They’ve just gone into difficult situations, but that’s a trust piece as well. And the same with businesses or employees. They’re really driven by employees and that sort of trust piece is quite is so super important. So it’s good to hear that. That’s improving as well. So So yeah, so so so certainly looking forward to the future. I think you’re attending optimistic That’s, that’s good. We’ll, we’ll definitely watch that space. So he and thanks very much for making the time for me today. I really appreciate it and super interesting to get a real sort of expert insight into the energy industry and water as well. So thanks very much.

35:12
No worries. Thanks, Chris. Thanks for your time. Thanks.

#FutureLeaders


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