Agribanking: What banks should be offering their farmers

Banks provide a whole lot more for farming customers than they do for the average Joe Bloggs. Two brains are better than one and harnessing an agri bankers’ knowledge can be commercially beneficial.

It’s a competitive market in agri banking and the banks know they need to add value to a relationship to clinch and retain clients.

Agri bankers should not only able to set up accounts, arrange loans and credit cards, provide budgeting advice and be an ear at the end of the phone. They should also be able to give advice on:

  • Risk management
  • Insurance
  • Succession and exit planning
  • Buying and selling land, stock and equipment
  • Investment opportunities and equity partnerships
  • Interest rate and foreign exchange transactions.

What’s more, the rural sector has come to expect seminars, workshops, online interactive tools, and even full-on residential training courses for free.Farming can be a lonely pursuit and unlike other industries farmers don’t get to mix, mingle and share ideas with others on a day-to-day basis.Banks are helping to fill this gap by organising networking events for farmers, designed to maximise collegial contact among farmers.

The relationship between banker and farm owner shouldn’t be underestimated says Co-Director of Massey University’s AgriCommerce Programme, Iona McCarthy.

Your agri banker should be a Jack of all trades, be able to give advice on anything from capitalising interest payments to your secession plan.They’ll also be able to advice on equity partnerships, and even at times be able to facilitate meetings between potential equity investors.

Although most farmers will also have accountants, an agri banker should be able to assist with discussing and analysing potential or existing opportunities.

A good agri banker is likely to be better educated and more experienced than the typical just out of college bank teller.It’s common for rural bankers to have agricultural degrees, although some have banking degrees. Valuation skills are also taught at university, says McCarthy.

Bankers are also likely to come from a farming family or come from a business or accountancy background.

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