What to look for in a Rural Accountant
Rural accountants possess specialised agri-industry knowledge, crucial for navigating the complexities of legislation and compliance. Your choice of accountant can profoundly impact your farming business: your tax management, your banking relationships, your growth, and your job satisfaction. A good rural accountant can really add value to your business in these current times.
We’ve worked with some of our partners to come up with a suggested checklist of what to look for when choosing your accountant.
• Do you feel supported?
Times are tough on-farm, you need an accountant that has your back.
• Are they forward looking?
For example, are they talking to you about managing your current year provisional tax? In a tough financial year there may be no tax payable. Are they helping you with budgeting and minimising any loss you may be anticipating.
• Are they timely?
Accountants cannot prepare all client’s annual accounts by the end of Spring, but a 3 – 4 month wait is too long. Many farmers and growers may be due a refund of 2023 tax already paid, but only once the accounts are filed!
• Do they support the software that you want to use?
The day-to-day work such as coding, reconciling, budgeting and reporting are tasks in the farmers control. Farmers should use a tool that they want to use and is fit for purpose. Accountants can easily transfer Farm Focus data into their own General Ledger for end of year processing.
• Do they have lots of farming clients?
Rural accounting is a specialist area- the accountant needs to be working in the agri field every week. Do they understand the farming calendar, the complexities of managing cashflow, and all the tax tools only available to agri-clients?
• Do they fundamentally understand your sector?
Do they have good connections with local bankers, consultants and lawyers? Understanding the legal and regulatory requirements is becoming increasingly essential such as knowledge on potential grants and subsidies available.
• Can you understand them, are they open to debate and feedback?
Do they explain technical accounting concepts in plain English. Open communication and robust conversations are a vital part of challenging and growing your business.
In choosing your rural accountant, consider the checklist we’ve crafted with our partners. Ensure they offer support, forward-thinking advice, timely service, and industry expertise. Open communication is key in today’s challenging environment. If you’re not satisfied, don’t hesitate to make a change. Your business deserves the best.
Written with the help of Rural Accountant Lawrence Field and farm owner and agri financial literacy advocate Annie Cates from Farm Focus