Ashburton farmer, Lee-Anne Stewart, and her husband, Norm, run three farms - two dairy and one dairy support for young stock. Needless to say, Lee-Anne has enough to keep her busy without to having to worry about spending long hours on the accounts, which was why she was motivated to start looking for a better solution for managing the finances of their farming business.
Moving with the times
Before moving to Figured, Lee-Anne and her husband were using CashmanagerRURAL but found it difficult to use and time consuming when it came to entering data. They were encouraged by their bank, ASB, to make the move to Figured and Xero and make the most of the free subscription they were providing to customers.
As Lee-Anne’s previous accountant wasn’t providing support around the move, she realised it was time for another change - to a more forward-thinking accounting practice. She approached Ashburton-based Mathieson Chartered Accountants who, as Figured partners, were the perfect choice to provide her with support and training as she transitioned across to the new system.
Significant time savings
“Lee-Anne’s biggest pain using her previous accounting software was the budgeting side of things - it would take her a long time. Now, the forecasting in Figured is significantly quicker, and takes much less of her time,” says Lee-Anne’s accountant, Alannah Martin.
In fact, since switching accounting software, Lee-Anne says she has slashed the amount of time she now needs to spend on her books in half. “It is much more user-friendly, the information I can get out of it is easier to understand, and I love that Fonterra payout prices are automatically updated and recalculated. I would say it has cut the amount of time in half that I used to spend on managing my accounts.”
The accessibility that cloud software affords is also helping to make reconciling accounts and managing GST a whole lot easier. “I love being so connected. I can sit down at night and reconcile my accounts in Xero on my iPhone, or I can be out anywhere on the farm and do it from there; I’m not longer tied to the desktop as I was previously”, Lee-Anne explains.
More strategic decision-making
While it’s primarily Lee-Anne who takes care of the books in their business, the new system has also got her husband more engaged, connecting what’s happening on farm with what’s happening in the books.
“It’s got my husband a bit more aware of what’s going on with the business, not just the happenings out on the farm. We’re sitting down more together, having a look at the numbers and having better conversations about what’s going on. As a consequence, he’s being a bit more strategic around decisions he is making that will affect farm finances,” Lee-Anne says.
Mathieson Chartered Accountants say that their practice is seeing more and more farmers who are motivated to use better technology in their farming business - and it’s not just the younger farmers.
And while moving to a new accounting system can seem like a daunting process, Lee-Anne says that Figured and Xero are much easier to use than her previous software, and the support and guidance she has received from her Figured certified advisors at Mathieson has made it simple and straightforward.
“We found the transition very easy. Alannah did the set-up for us and then spent just half an hour going over it with us. I wouldn’t say I’m very computer-minded, but I find the software very intuitive to use,” Lee-Anne says.
Collaboration in the cloud
Lee-Anne says that having immediate access to data, and being able to collaborate with her accountant and bank manager around it, has changed the way that they are working together, “It means that they can go in at any time and see what is happening in the accounts, and it’s allowing us to have a more open relationship and better conversations with both our accountant and bank.”
From the accountant’s perspective, Alannah says they are also noticing a shift in the discussions they are able to have with their clients, “Using Figured and Xero is allowing us to be more proactive about things, we’re no longer looking at numbers from 14-18 months earlier as all the data is current and we’re able to focus more on what’s ahead,” she explains.
“Because we don’t have to spend time getting the basics right using multiple versions of accounts, we can instead get back to looking after their business and building a strategy for the long-term success of their farms.”