By Chris Vanderkolk, Head of Marketing at Figured.
This is Figured’s fifth year at Fieldays alongside Xero. In 2014, the ‘farming in the cloud’ concept came to life at Fieldays. Since then, we’ve continued to see this message resonate with more and more farmers. They’re all seeking a smarter solution to managing their finances and working with their farm advisory team. It’s been wonderful to speak to so many existing clients who came by the stand this week. It’s also been fantastic to introduce the benefits of Figured to many more.
The role of data in farming
This year, we welcomed national and international partners and guests to attend Fieldays to learn more about Figured and Xero. The discussion focused around the role we believe experts should take in leading conversations around data with their farming customers.
Farmers are tech-savvy. For years they’ve been innovating, using technology, and tracking data. You only need to look around the exhibitor stands to see that data is very much at the centre of ‘the future of farming’. The problem with data, however, is that its power only lies in the ability to make it meaningful. With much of this data siloed, aggregating it and understanding it in context to their business is a challenge. It’s a challenge that many farmers don’t have the time or skills to undertake.
The importance of business advisors
As a company that operates on a global stage, we’ve seen that challenges for farmers are the same worldwide – volatile prices, weather setbacks, policy decisions. Also, despite being good producers, many farmers lack strong business management skills. Because of that, what we’ve also seen is that they all have a strong relationship with some kind of trusted advisor.
It’s these advisors, says Dave Dodds, CEO of Figured, who owe it to the agriculture industry, the biggest export industry in New Zealand. They need to take the lead in helping farmers make sense of their data. It is their responsibility to educate, and to seek smarter tools that don’t just produce more data, but that actually enable them as advisors to provide better, more informed advice to their clients. These need to be tools that remove silos by integrating or aggregating both on-farm data and financial data to provide a clearer overall picture of a farming business.
Efficiency and productivity are the drivers of growth, and it falls to advisors to help their clients understand the behaviour and strategies that will move them forward. An advisor’s role is no longer just about looking at financials. They need to consider insights at an operational level and explore how to apply them to improve productivity, sustainability, and ultimately profitability.
Leading the change
Throughout our five years at Fieldays, we’ve been pleased to consistently see more partners each year leading this change. We were fortunate to be joined by several of these partners this year, like Brett Bennett from FARMit, John Schol from Malloch McClean and Rachael Trickey and Bronte Gorringe from Mulcahy & Co Agri Solutions in Australia, who are examples of practices who have embraced an advisory focused approach to their business model to deliver greater value to their farming clients.
We know farmers need, and want help, and tools like Figured and Xero provide an opportunity for greater business insight. But it’s up to advisors to truly leverage it so they can start the conversations that farmers need to hear. We’ve built Figured to put advisors at the centre for this reason. With data, advisors have the ability to understand trends, strategies and behaviour that contributes to a more profitable sector. So our question to agri accountants is: where are you going to sit in leading this for the sake of your clients, and the industry?