A peek behind the scenes at Southbank Investment Research

Today I’m going to talk you about Beyond Oil, the energy investing summit we’re putting on next week.

But I’m going to take you behind the scenes, with some stories of how it came about, what putting it on involves, and why we’re going to all this trouble.

To be honest, I haven’t even asked the powers that be if I’m allowed to tell you all this stuff, but I’m just going to go for it and hope for the best.

A quick word about myself firstly. I started at Southbank Investment Research in January last year, and was lucky enough to be put on James Allen’s team working on renewable energy.

It was something that I knew and cared about as much as everyone else – notionally interested and all for it in theory, but I hadn’t delved at all into what’s actually going on.

It was a real slice of luck, because I’m absolutely loving it, and to be honest I’m far more optimistic now (regarding the slowly developing climate crisis) than I ever was before. There’s just so much incredible work being done all over the globe – human ingenuity at its finest.

I’ve been reading tons – The Zulu Principle is just one example. One top book, which changed my initial enjoyment of working on the energy transition into something more like an obsession, was Oil Fall by Gregor Macdonald. It’s absolutely phenomenal.

I recommend it, and Gregor was therefore put straight into our A-list of desired guests for the Beyond Oil summit next week, and luckily for you, we got him.

Over time, James started allowing me to help seek out, research and even recommend companies to his Exponential Energy Fortunes subscribers. We feel strongly here at Southbank Investment Research that we are helping everyone, normal people like you or I, to become better investors and make better returns. Not Richard Branson with his private client accounts at corporate, and now, central banks.

So when you find a company that has an epic business model, beautiful financials and a great industry tailwind, and you recommend it and it does well over a year or more, it’s a really great feeling, thinking that all of you, our readers, have benefited. That is very much our central and ultimate goal here. That’s what I like about working here, anyway.

Through the year, it’s just been learn, learn, learn.

Then, late last year, some of the companies James and I were recommending started to really go haywire.

We had known we were on to something big, but we weren’t getting ahead of ourselves. The energy transition is a marathon not a sprint, we know that. And it won’t be a straight line up, make no mistakes. We’ve seen renewables surge and fade before.

But this time something was different.

With Greta everywhere, the social, political and investment will to drive change was like nothing James had ever seen, not in his decades of experience.

I was actually in the meeting (that sounds common, but it’s not, I’m still relatively new after all!) when James sat everyone down – our publisher and chief decision-maker Nick O’Connor, and our heads of marketing, sales and strategy. He told them that we are seeing something truly extraordinary here, and laid out everything that I’ve written to you about over the last few weeks.

But the crucial factor was that renewables were outperforming fossil fuels in the stockmarkets. And not just slightly either. By miles.

Ah – the risk-on good times we’re rolling though. I hear you, and that was a concern of mine too. But it’s been very interesting to see that what you might think of as particularly high-risk, small-cap futurist clean-energy technology companies have actually outperformed their fossil fuel-based equivalents in this downturn.

Obviously, we had the oil shock so it’s a bit mean comparing to oil stocks right now. I’m not just talking oil majors, though. If you look at utilities, which have very repeatable cash flows and predictable returns, and which saw only a brief dip in demand in March, then you’ll see that the outperformance of the last few years which renewable utilities have enjoyed has been massively exacerbated this year.

Coal and gas-based companies have taken huge hits, while those using solar, wind, hydro and battery storage for electricity generation have seen consistent generation and stable performance both from a business and an economic perspective.

From a piece in the New York Times:

“Renewables are on a growth trajectory today that I think isn’t going to be set back long term,” said Dan Reicher, the founding executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University and an assistant energy secretary in the Clinton administration. “This will be a bump in the road.”

For example, American coal generation declined 36% in March compared to the previous year, while natural gas and wind generation rose by 9% and 15% respectively. The UK and Germany are breaking records for solar generation right now, and the UK hasn’t used coal for 15 days. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates coal generation will decline 20% in 2020. Seems pretty big to me!

And just take a look at what’s happening here in Britain right now.

Source: The Guardian

Just look at that. Change is happening fast. We felt the urgency of it all quite strongly.

And so, at that meeting of minds, the decision was agreed. We needed to get the word out. Beyond Oil was born.

It has taken a huge collective effort to get it off the ground. I’ve even had to go on bloody camera, and do my interviewing and summit-hosting debut. The film and tech team has had its work cut out making me seem not terrible, I can assure you.

Then, beyond my comprehension entirely, there has been the organisational effort putting together promotional material, email timetables, email and editorial content, the digital production of all this, making a new website, design and production, and more!

And then the interviews themselves!

One guest flew in from the US, another came over on the Eurostar from Paris.

When one guest found out who the rest of our energy celebrities were, as we introduced ourselves and chatted in our office kitchen (remember those?!), he exclaimed that we had pulled together literally all the top names in the biz. I humbly admit that he may be right…

For me, relatively new to the sector, it was a real privilege to speak to these guys. I’ve been reading their work and following their content the whole time I’ve worked at Southbank Investment Research, pretty much.

And to be honest, the imposter syndrome I felt at the beginning never really went away. The calibre of our guests was just too high. Multiple award-winning authors, the head of sustainability research at major asset managers, a head of EV and e-mobility research, hugely successful angel-investors and major energy transition founders/CEOs.

Mostly I felt okay interviewing them. It’s easier I suppose when you’re genuinely very interested in the topic of conversation, because I could have chatted to these guys at a dinner or event for hours and hours, so all I had to do was pretend those damn cameras weren’t there, crack on, and try and enjoy it.

But still, I’m no TV or media guy at all; all my life I’ve hated being on camera, and hated the sound of my own voice as most people do. So I was a tad mortified when Nick O’Connor asked me to do it (I’m grateful now though, Nick).

In our office we have a video studio. Luke runs the show really, but Scot pretends to be in charge, bless him.

This is how it looked when I sent it in to the video team…

And when they sent back the edited version it looked like this…

Amazing what technology can do these days, eh? They even undid my foolhardy attempt at a quarantine buzz cut!

I’m kidding obviously – but a couple of things did have to be recorded from my bedroom embarrassingly! I hope you’ll understand that we chose audio only for those bits! And even from far away, Luke and Scot have been working hard to make me sound better with microphones, noise filters, and impressively high standards even in these difficult times.

So, a shoutout to them – thanks guys! (Also curious to see if they actually read my work…)

Anyway, that’s the story of Beyond Oil, from my perspective at least. It’s all geared up and ready to go, finishing touches applied. And, hopefully there are no last-minute speedbumps…

To those of you who’ve signed up, well done and I sincerely hope it’s worth your while. That’ll make it worth doing from our perspective too.

If you haven’t, you’re almost out of time, so sign up right here before it’s too late.

Catch you on Monday all, and have a great weekend.

Kit Winder
Editor, UK Uncensored

1 Comment
  1. Hi there, for all time i used to check blog posts here in the early hours in the daylight, for the reason that i love to learn more
    and more.

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