The Energy Consultants Association (“The ECA”) – Code of Conduct

 

Introduction

This Code sets out the minimum standards to which all member businesses agree to adhere. In this context, member business includes owners, directors, employees, and any persons of significant influence.

Members shall confirm that they agree to abide by this Code by completing & submitting a membership application form or by renewing membership on an annual basis.

This Code may be amended from time to time by approval of the Board in accordance with the Constitution.

The ECA will monitor compliance with this Code by both new and existing members. Any contraventions of the Code will result in the processes as set out in Section XX below. Members are required to comply with any Code of Conduct enquiry on a comprehensive and timely basis.

Principles

All members agree to abide by the following principles:

Integrity

Members will always act with integrity in their dealings with all parties including but not limited to customers, referrers, third party providers, suppliers, and regulatory authorities. This will include openness, transparency, and treating others with respect in all business dealings. Members will not engage in any activity which may bring the reputation of The ECA or the UK energy consultancy industry into disrepute.

Treating Customers Fairly

Members will always act with fairness, will not misrepresent the nature of services offered to customers, and will ensure that customers have all information needed to make an informed decision as to whether to use a member’s services.

Diligence 

Members will run their businesses diligently, ensuring good governance, applying sound financial and risk management, and maintaining appropriate training for all directors & employees.

Fraud

Members will use their best endeavours to prevent and detect fraud. In this regard, members will actively pursue the discovery of any fraudulent activity both internally and on the part of any party with whom it deals. To protect the industry as a whole, and, to the extent permitted by law, members will share information in respect of any party known to be involved in or suspected of fraudulent activity.

Confidentiality

Members will treat any confidential information received from any source during the course of its business activities in accordance with all prevailing data protection regulations.

Compliance

Members will comply with all applicable laws and regulations at all times. Members will also follow any guidance on best practice published by the UK Government or any other relevant authority.

Business Process

  • Referral sources

All sources of work (“referrers”) will be comprehensively vetted at inception and periodically thereafter to ensure that the quality of referrals received is of a suitably high standard. This includes lead providers, sub brokers / consultants, third party campaigns , aggregators and other partners like telecoms / other resellers

  • Suitability of needs assessment

Customers will be offered products and services that are suitable for their needs. Members will ensure that by fact finding, customers are not sold products that are not suitable to their needs.

  • Sale / Introduction of Energy and associated services and products

The nature of any consultancy services offered to a potential customer will be fully explained in terms that the customer can reasonably be expected to understand. These terms will be agreed by the customer prior to the facilitation / sale / introduction of any products or services by the member.

Members will ensure that customers referred to them are made fully aware that they are dealing with an energy consultant, and in particular, will ensure that customers are not misled that they are dealing with their own supplier or that of any third party involved in their energy supply giving rise to the referral.

Members will check where possible to ascertain whether the customer has already entered into an energy supply contract and if so will explain the potential liabilities of breaching such agreements both in terms of failed consultant and suppler fees.

Members will not facilitate illegal change of tenancy agreements (wording beefed up here)

  • Fraud

Members will perform appropriate due diligence on prospective customers including ID checks, banking checks where able to do so, and ensure that the customer is the customer whose meter/s are being switched / renewed.

Documentation

All documentation will be clear and complete, include all terms and conditions, and be provided in a timely fashion in advance of the provision of services.

Such documentation will include but not be limited to –

  • That the member is being paid commission by a supplier that this commission forms part of the customers energy costs
  • the customer’s liability for the charges for services received (if applicable via the members terms to the customer,
  • the customer’s obligation to co-operate fully at all stages in this process.

In addition, the customer’s attention will be drawn to their additional liability for –

  • consultants fees in the event of a win back / failure to go live
  • any
  • Contract Execution

ADetails here about how contract are executed and retaining records / call recordings

Pre Live Monitoring

Members will diligently and regularly monitor the contracts due to go live

Audit and compliance

Add requirements to regularly audit employees / check work etc

 

General

Members will ensure compliance at all times with all applicable laws and regulations, including but not limited to those stipulated by HM Government, HMRC, Companies House, ICO, Ofgem and the FCA, including timely reporting, submission, and payment of sums due.

Members will ensure all directors and employees are suitably trained for the roles they are required to perform and conduct regular and timely updates to ensure their knowledge remains relevant and up to date.

Members will actively pursue the prevention and detection of fraud on the part of all stakeholders including referrals sources, potential and actual customers, directors and employees, subcontractors, and suppliers.

Members will not engage directly or indirectly in any behaviour that might adversely affect the reputation of The ECA or the wider credit hire sector.

Members must comply fully with any ECA Code of Conduct enquiry including the provision of responses to enquiries received on a comprehensive and timely basis.

Contraventions of the Code

Any allegation of contravention of this code will be subject to the process set out below:

  • Initial complaint

Any alleged breach of this Code by a member which comes to the attention of or is otherwise notified to The ECA will be referred to the ECA chair and appointd person at the member in the first instance.

  • Member notification & preliminary enquiry

The ECA will notify the member of the alleged breach and that preliminary enquiries will be conducted.

The Chair will undertake preliminary enquiries, and will determine whether there has been a breach of the Code, and the matter is to be referred to the Professional Standards Committee (“PSC”). The PSC shall comprise three members of the Board of the ECA, appointed by the Board.

  • No case to answer

If the Chair determines that the alleged breach does not warrant referral to the PSC, the Chair will write to both the member concerned and any complainant notifying them of this decision.

Brief details will be notified to the Board at its next meeting, and the decision recorded in the minutes.

  • Suspension pending full investigation

If the Chair determines that there is a case to answer and the alleged breach does merit full investigation, the Chair will write to the member providing details of the alleged breach. The member will be given twenty working days to respond to the allegations and provide a full written response.

The Chair will also notify the member that their membership has been suspended with immediate effect pending completion of the full investigation into the alleged breach.

Whilst suspended, a member will not be required to pay any subscriptions otherwise falling due, but in the event of any re-instatement will be required to pay any outstanding subscription immediately.

  • Investigation, decision, and reporting

The PSC will reach a decision by simple majority vote and based on the evidence it receives. The PSC may consult relevant industry experts, if necessary, in the conduct of its enquiries.

If PSC concludes that the allegation is not proven, the member will be notified, membership re-instated and the matter closed.

If the PSC concludes that the allegation is upheld, a decision whether to continue the suspension pending resolution of the matter giving rise to the breach (e.g., via auditing or training) or to terminate membership, will be notified to the member.

The decision reached by the PSC will be reported to the next Board meeting and the outcome recorded in the minutes. Any decision to terminate will be noted on The ECA website. There will be no refund of any subscriptions paid.

  • Appeal process

If a Member wishes to contest any decision by the PSC, an appeal must be made in writing to the ECA Chair within seven days of date of notification of the decision of the PSC, setting out the reasons for the appeal. The appeal will be considered by the Board, and the decision reached will be notified to the member and be final and binding.