Canterbury dairy farmer, Fraser Tasker, owns a 150ha dairy farm, as well as a support and trading property that is used for raising young stock, lamb trading, beef finishing and selling surplus winter feed.
Not surprisingly, with so much going on, there’s a bit to keep on top of around the finances of these properties. The Taskers had been using CashManager Rural, but found it slow to use. After chatting to their accountants at Mathieson Chartered Accountants, they were encouraged to check out Figured and Xero, and decided it was time to make the switch.
Ashburton-based Mathieson Chartered Accountants is a 100% Xero practice, so accountant Harry Waddell says Figured is the natural complement for their farming customers. Specifically for Fraser, it is providing the ideal solution to managing a multi-faceted farming operation. “Fraser has a lot going on in his business. It would be difficult to keep track of everything if we didn’t have a system like Figured in place to see up to date stock numbers and production figures,” Harry explains.
A streamlined online system
Fraser says they’ve now been using Figured and Xero for over 6 months, and that it’s providing a more streamlined solution for managing their farm finances.
He says that Figured’s biggest benefit is the ease of use. “It’s very simple to get started on and intuitive to use. With any new technology there is a process of learning, but I have found Figured very easy to get my head around,” says Fraser.
Fraser had support from Mathieson’s in getting started, and from there has used a combination of support from the Mathieson team, and Figured’s online support. “It’s simple. If I have any questions or queries, they can get in there too and have a look straight away at what I’m doing, so that’s definitely made things easier.”
From Harry’s perspective, having an online system also means that as advisers they can be far more proactive around advice provided to clients. “If clients are having an issue, it’s just a matter of logging in and seeing what’s going on and fixing it up on the spot. If we notice a trend or see something going on, we can step in before it’s too late, rather than getting the information at the end of the year when we’re too far down the track to do anything about it.”
Fraser says that the assumption that Figured is solely a tool for advisers is wrong, and in fact Fraser and his wife find that they are able to take care of more tasks themselves, relying less on their accountants for the day-to-day financial tasks. “We reconcile all the accounts, do the coding and we’ll be doing our own GST,” says Fraser.
Harry believes that, as a practice, Mathieson’s have seen a shift in attitude among clients toward managing finances, thanks largely to access farmers now have to online tools such as Figured and Xero. “We’ve had quite a few farmers come to us and say that they want to use Figured. It’s really positive to see that they are keen to be engaged with their finances because their numbers are much more accessible and easy to understand.”
Mathieson’s run monthly training sessions for their clients on Xero and now also Figured, and with instant access to data online it is much easier to provide help when users need it. “Training includes phone calls, so they know they can ring up with any questions and we will login and have a look to help them out,” says Harry.
Connecting with their bank
As well as finding it easier to work alongside their accountant at Mathieson’s, the Taskers have found that Figured is also making things clearer for their rural bank manager. “I’ve sent him monthly reports on actuals versus forecasts, and he gets into Figured and has a look at how things are tracking.” Fraser adds that because financial tracking and the forecasting of cash flows are so much easier, they’re also a lot more accurate, particularly when it comes to overdraft requirements.
Real-time accessibility to data, simple intuitive functionality and Figured’s commitment to continual innovation are what Fraser says are the top three benefits of using Figured and Xero. And with a clearer picture of his business performance he can focus on growth and profitability with a forward-thinking approach.