Managing the Finances of Landed Estates & Diversified Farm Enterprises

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Managing the Finances of Landed Estates & Diversified Farm Enterprises
By David Kirby, UK & Ireland Managing Director

Figured grew out of the need to bring online reporting and real time farm financial performance to managers, shareholders and stakeholders who are part of the ‘farming team’. The farming team includes the farmer, the accountant, the banker and the consultant. As we’ve progressed, we’ve found that the Figured product has been supporting more & more complex farming operations across the world. 

 

Using Figured for your estate

When Figured launched in the UK, we discovered that our product capability around reporting and handling multi-entities was also well suited to the diversity that comes with estates. One super user, Scott Kennedy at EQ Accountants in Forfar, Scotland, quickly realised that the reporting functionality was a great help to bring together diverse enterprises. This would often include farming with commercial and residential property, a shoot, holiday homes, farm shops, and more. With the ability to handle multiple enterprises under one Xero account, Figured has the flexibility to handle the diversity that large estates need.

Diversification has become more important to agri-businesses, and being able to split out multiple enterprises within Figured makes it easy to isolate the costs and revenue from off farm income. This is useful for smaller diversified enterprises through the setting up of a generic tracker to handle non-farm income, or by using account codes in Xero to ensure costs are isolated and apportioned appropriately.

With Xero and Figured working together, an estate’s financials and farm production data are brought together in a usable and insightful way. Understanding which component of the enterprise is driving profit can be broken down further in the arable area to crop, field or season level. Reports in Figured can be saved and shared with the rest of the farming team, so that everyone can collaborate and comment on the same set of numbers. Working with the professional estate team becomes easier - sharing with owners, financial officers, land agents, surveyors and other professional services is done quickly and with clear levels of permissions.  

See more on William Notcutt Estates and how Scrutton Bland Partner Nick Banks uses Figured and Xero on the Xero agri resource centre. 

 

Estates App Stack

As we develop further in this area, we’re seeing more estates start to talk about their own app stack. This is the software they’re using to support the other needs of the estate. Rather than using a single piece of software to do everything, you can have various apps for specific purposes, that connect to each other. They do this through APIs, which are a common language for apps to share data with one other. Our partnership with Xero is key here, as their app ecosystem enables clients to find other apps that fulfil their diverse needs. For example, an estate might use:

  • Xero: Ledger reconciliation & bookkeeping
  • Figured: Agri financial reporting & forecasting
  • Xero Expenses & Hubdoc: expense management across the estate workforce
  • Agriwebb: Livestock management
  • Re-Leased: Property management 
  • Hubdoc: Invoice scanning & data extraction

 

Xero is at the heart of this app stack, as the single source of financial truth. More sophisticated estates may then bolt an additional analytics package on too, and could even build their own custom dashboards with a tool like PowerBI.

The reason this works effectively is the fundamental difference between modern cloud based systems and their desktop based equivalents. Cloud packages are focused on openness and connecting packages together. Figured integrates with Xero, bringing production data together with accurate, real-time financial data. It does this via APIs, which are established ways of connecting diverse systems to share data. When you then connect Re-Leased to Xero, it’s working off of the same data as the other apps within your ‘stack’.

 

How can you get started?

We always advocate implementing technology change in stages. It’s a journey, and not something that happens overnight. It starts with ensuring that the finance team is comfortable with a shift to Xero, so that your new ecosystem of apps can use the common ledger.

 

Find out more