With offices in Perth and throughout WA, as well as across the country, national accounting firm RSM Australia has a large number of agribusiness clients. For many of them, Business Advisory Manager, Trent Frost, is their main point of contact, helping them with anything involving their finances - from bookkeeping, BAS and tax returns through to business advisory and succession planning. Coming from a farming background himself, Trent has a strong connection to the land and an indepth understanding of the challenges that his clients are facing.
Online accessibility changing the game for farmers & accountants
Trent says many of RSM’s customers have been relying on desktop software, or simply spreadsheets, to keep on top of their finances. “The challenge therefore, as their accountant, is having access to all that information. Previously, it’s been a matter of getting them to put everything on a thumb drive then sending it over to us. WA is a big state, so geographically it is time consuming for clients to be in and out of the office.”
Trent says that the introduction of cloud-based tools has therefore been a game-changer for efficiency and accuracy. At RSM they use Xero, and more recently, have introduced Figured for agri business customers. “Xero, being online, addresses access issues for us. We can log in and have instant access to client information, without any involvement required from them. Figured then extends from Xero and gives us a very good way of dealing with the nuances of the agriculture industry and agribusiness,” explains Trent.
“We’re seeing that the information is now more up to date, more accurate, more reliable. And from a user-perspective, it’s a very user-friendly way to be doing things.”
Taking care of compliance
RSM’s aim is to make compliance tasks as efficient as possible, which opens up scope to provide advice that can really add value to their clients. “Making compliance more efficient means we have the time and capacity to give better advice, and therefore deliver better value for money to our clients. For example, it may give us the scope to do a budget with a client who doesn’t normally have the financial capacity to invest in the time to do so.”
With that in mind, something that Trent has found particularly good in Figured is its budgeting capability.
“Budgeting is one of the main reasons I love Figured. Spending the time to get the budget right at the start, then continuing with better bookkeeping practice using Figured and Xero, means that every month it’s easy to review business performance with clients.”
With the help of Figured, he’s been able to drastically cut down the amount of time it takes to pull valuable insights together. “I can easily generate a report of comparison between budget and actuals. Traditionally, that would have taken a fair bit of time for accountants to do, which is obviously more costly for our farmers. I can now produce a report that is really meaningful to them, without a huge demand on our time”.
Trent says that overall, he believes Xero and Figured can provide his clients “a level of insight into their business that they’ve never had before”, which can only help drive decision making and improve business performance.