How do you feel about your farm?
• Does it feel harder than it should be?
• Are you constantly short of money?
• Do you keep receiving phone calls, letters or emails chasing your for money?
• Is your farm bank account balance getting smaller each year?
• Are you paying taxes on profits but still feel no better off?
• Do you feel bad, worried or concerned about your future in farming?
IF YOU ANSWER YES TO ANY OF THESE CONTINUE. IF YOU ANSWER NO TO ALL OF THESE SHOULD YOU CHALLENGE YOURSELF THAT YOU ARE NOT FOOLING YOURSELF?
• First of all, lets acknowledge that financial problems can have a high impact on mental health, stress and even physical health. Getting help with this is vitally important.
• At the same time, ideally, you should seek help to deal with financial problems. Removing the causes of your stress will ensure a lasting recovery.
• It is important to remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Do not be afraid to talk to somebody you know or one one of these organisations:
• FCN – FARMCOMMUNITY NETWORK tel: 03000 111 999 email: email@example.com
• SAMARITANS tel: 116 123 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• LRSN – LINCOLNSHIRE RURAL SUPPORT NETWORK tel: 0800 138 1710 www.lrsn.co.uk
Or view the organisations in the booklet on this link:
Who should you get to help you. First of all look at who you already know and trust. The best farming businesses have professional help from five key groups of people that work separately and sometimes together to help them:
You should consider all of the following people as a potential source of professional help:
• Bank Manager – Do you know who your Bank Manager is? Do you have a Bank Manager? Do you know who to speak to at the Bank? If you cannot answer these three questions it is an indication that you have not been proactively managing your Bank finance. Equally, it is also an indication that your Bank has not proactively managed your Bank borrowing. But this is not about blame or fault, its about taking control of your future. Choose your moment to phone your Bank when you are not distracted and ask them to discuss your Bank finance. If you are stressed by your finances tell them this as every UK Bank has undertaken to help vulnerable customers who are affected with financial concerns. This will help them approach you with the empathy and understanding you deserve.
When you phone your Bank they may ask a lot of questions or for information. If you do not know the answer tell them this and ask for time to give them this information. Even better get them to email you with exactly what they want as this “keeps the ink red” and you can forward the email to your accountant/land agent/solicitor if they have the answers.
If the Bank perceives you may be in difficulty they may use a specialist support manager. It is in the Bank’s interest to see you being successful and able to function as a profitable farm. They may make suggestions that you are not happy with. You must express to them if you are not happy with any of their solutions or actions – they are not mind-readers.
Sometimes your Bank may be in the wrong, if you think this is the case tell them and do not be afraid to use their complaints procedure. This is nothing for you or the Bank to take personally. As Marlon Brando says in the Godfather, “This is not personal, this is business.” If you wish get an opinion about your concerns from your accountant.
KEEP COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR BANK.
LAND AGENT – a good land agent will help you. You need to trust them; be prepared to give them information; be accepting of the advice they give.
When you first talk to them be honest about how you feel and do not be shy to admit the stress you feel. They will have empathy and understanding. Talk to them about the cost of their services. Most good land agents have a short form review service that is relatively low cost, however talk to them about the best service for you. It may be money well spent if they reduce your costs and improve your profitability.
TO BE EFFECTIVE ENCOURAGE YOUR LAND AGENT TO GIVE YOU MESSAGES AND OPTIONS YOU MAY NOT INITIALLY LIKE.
SOLICITOR – you tend to need help from a solicitor after talking to the other professionals. However, a solicitor can help you understand your legal rights, tenancy rights. They can help you ensure your business is resilient with such items as Powers of Attorney or Wills.
THE BEST FARMING BUSINESSES HAVE THEIR PROFESSIONALS WORKING TOGETHER TO HELP THEM ACHIEVE. THEY CAN BE YOUR TEAM OF SUPERHEROES.THEY CAN SAVE YOU.
ACCOUNTANT – a good accountant will challenge you if you are making losses or getting into difficulty. They will be proactive in offering solutions or contacts that can help you. They are not just there to ensure you are the right side of the tax man. They can be key in understanding where your money goes, how to save costs and in exploring alternatives. A good accountant will speak truth to you. They will challenge financial failings and suggest options available to you provided you are prepared to listen. Remember that a good accountant is only as good as the information you give him or the services you request. First ask yourself a question about your existing accountant. If you have experienced financial difficulty for some time why have you not had a suggestion of help from them already? Is it because they are not proactively looking after you as a client? Or is it because you are not prepared to listen to them or are not approachable? Should you consider a change of accountant? That is up to you to assess. A more prudent approach will be to invite criticism from your existing accountant and express a desire to be helped.
AGRONOMIST - a good agronomist will not just sell you chemicals, fertilizer or seed, but will suggest ways that you can become more efficient by reducing costs or increasing returns. A good agronomist will be a source of ideas on how to manage your soil, crops and farm in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner.
The next post will be about how to track your cash.