Bigger is not always better

Meet Bill and Sally (not their real names). They are farmers in their 60’s and their neighbours Tom and Anne have been clients of our firm for many years.

When Bill and Sally made an appointment to come and see us, they had been using an accountant in Sydney. In confidence, they shared that when they were just starting out on their own, Bill’s father had told them that they needed a big City accounting firm.

Something else to chew on over dinner…

Bill and Sally were over having dinner one night with Tom and Anne when they saw a goal poster on the fridge.  It had the LCA logo on it and Tom explained that last year when we were doing their tax planning review that their personal goals for the next 12 months were also on the agenda.  At that time, Tom and Anne had shared how they really wanted to travel to central Australia before they got too old to enjoy it.  Tom told Bill that it was this conversation that encouraged and supported them to actually do the trip. A wonderful time was had on the Ghan Train, with particular highlights being getting off the train in Alice Springs and exploring the NT.  They had a wonderful time and the farm survived quite well without them for 2 weeks.

Bill and Sally couldn’t help but be impressed that Tom’s accountant actually took time to care about their personal goals and in fact helped them achieve them. As the conversation unfolded over dinner, Tom also explained that we helped him apply for the recent RAA grants and liaised with his bank manager and the rural financial councilor. That Tom had found the whole process easy was somewhat unsettling…Bill had been trying to get the same grant – which he still didn’t have.

Time for a fresh approach

Our first appointment with Bill and Sally was nothing like any other accountant appointment they had ever been too.  At first, Bill was curious and a little wary when we started asking him about his family, his farm, and its history, along with what he was passionate about.  “Why would you want to know about my family?”, he asked. When we told him, “Because it’s part of who you are and what’s important to you” he started to appreciate that this conversation was going to be very different to those he had had over the years with his Big City bean counter. As the conversation unfolded, it was great to see Bill growing in confidence about how a farm-orientated accountant could help him in more ways than he had dared to imagine.

Some early yardage… and an exit plan

It was during this first meeting that we were able to review his past financial statements and advise how we could help him improve the bottom line and the tax situation in the current year.  Turns out that Bill was unaware of the way FMD’s could be helping his cash flow and tax position. He now appreciates for example how he can delay having to pay tax on his sheep sales in drought years where he is forced to sell them all. “I should have been with an accountant specialising in farmers all along,” he said.

Bill and Sally also wanted to discuss how to hand the farm over to their sons over the next five years. It was something they had been thinking about, without any real idea as to how to proceed. We were able to take them through the process set out in our farm succession planning guide. Bill was particularly impressed about how we could save him thousands of dollars in legal fees by having the plan ready to go before he actually visited the solicitors.

Onwards and upwards

Bill and Sally signed on as clients at that very first meeting and we have now formed a strong trusting relationship with them in a very short period of time.

In all honesty, I was blown away at how easy LCA was to talk to and to deal with.  Nothing is too much trouble for them.  Every single person I have spoken to there has been delightful to work with and Linda managed to get us the grants from RAA in no time flat.  She knew the right people to speak to and she just made it happen.  We couldn’t be happier and we can’t wait for tax planning as we want to tell her what our personal goals are for the next 12 months”.  Bill and Sally

“Bill and Sally’s story is a very common one.  Accountants overall are just too busy to really care what’s going on in people’s personal lives.  But to me you have to have a balanced picture of what’s going on, who they are, who their family is, what are their future plans, the whole picture. Just as important, farmers need accountants who know and understand all of the special rules applying to those on the land. Literally, this can make the difference between financial success and failure.

Bill and Sally have been lovely clients and we are now dealing with their two sons and working on turning their five-year succession plan into reality ”  Linda Crawford, Director.

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