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James Tilney: Finding opportunities in a complex power system

Utilising Macquarie's internal mobility opportunities, James Tilney has moved roles three times in as many years. Now working as a power trader, he is part of a team trading over a billion megawatts of power and gas each year in Europe. 


In 2016, Macquarie approached James Tilney and asked him to join its Futures team within the Commodities and Global Markets group. James was working as an analyst at a small investment management company, which focused on systematic trading strategies in the global futures markets trading futures and London Metal Exchange products. While he enjoyed what he was already doing, James was drawn to Macquarie's global scale and the opportunities it could present to broaden his experience. 


Facilitating exchange trading 

James' first role at Macquarie was in the Business Solutions team within the Futures division. The role included managing new initiatives such as exchange memberships, new products and assisting with client requests. 

"My main role in the Futures business was supporting the clearing sales team by implementing various initiatives. This involved understanding and improving our internal technology capability to be able to expand our client market offerings as well as assist with various client issues."

The clients James helped included commodity producers who need to hedge their products, like metal refiners selling their outputs and consumer groups buying sugar for their confectionery goods. He spent 15 months in the Futures team before applying for a role in the Power and Gas Operations team.  


Moving to the physical side 

"Moving from a futures role to the Power and Gas Operations team isn't a step people typically make," says James.

That’s one of the great things about Macquarie – the possibility to put your hand up for new opportunities in new areas and then have the ability to move into them to further drive your career."

Unlike any of his previous jobs, James' new role meant he was dealing with a physical market. 

"Some clients trade futures but won't ever take delivery of the product," James says. “The Power and Gas Operations team is able to cater to clients who plan to provide physical delivery or receive it to use for either themselves or their customers."

James' role in the team included managing and optimising a client’s power station portfolio. Given Macquarie’s market access, the role involved selling electricity generated by the power stations directly onto the National Grid network. It’s a real-time 24/7 role looking at the price of power, gas and carbon to directly manage the power stations’ generation to enhance their efficiency and profitability.


Trading power 

In 2019, James once again made the most of Macquarie’s internal mobility opportunities and moved into his third role in as many years, as a Power Trader in the EMEA Gas and Power Trading team. 

Here, he draws on his knowledge and experience to assist clients hedge their positions. 

"I've gone from managing and optimising specific assets to assisting Macquarie’s various clients," James explains. "They may be looking to either buy or sell electricity and as part of my analysis and research I can provide a price." The role involves detailed analysis on everything from seasonal temperatures, demand profiles, and forecasts on the UK's renewable generation. James trades with various counterparties, including renewable electricity generators such as wind, solar and biomass to the more traditional gas and nuclear power generators.

We have a diverse team in our commodities business, with people from a range of backgrounds."

"We have logistical experts to help move commodities from where they are produced to where they are consumed, we have meteorologists who forecast weather patterns that can impact commodity prices, as well as use Data Scientists and Quantitative Analysts who are able to assist with interpreting large amounts of data that we receive daily."


A complex system 

James enjoys the challenge of dealing with the complexities within the UK's evolving power market, as well as the opportunity to provide specific solutions for Macquarie's clients. 

He says a lot of his job involves looking at the bigger picture of what the overall system is doing.

"We try to understand how the different generators are going to run," James says. "Will government legislation encourage or discourage the use of particular energy sources? Are prices sufficiently high to justify building new biomass units? On the demand side, what, for example, will happen if the popularity of electric cars grows and when will people charge them? The wind doesn't always blow when demand is greatest."


Career mobility

James has enjoyed the global nature of his work to date, as well as the responsibilities given to him. "Macquarie has had some excellent opportunities available that I've been fortunate to make the most of," James says. 

"I’ve been given a lot of responsibility within the different teams here and built some truly great relationships. People on the desk here, and the organisation more broadly, have real insights on the market which you can learn a lot from."

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