Invercargill-based rural advisor Richard Henderson took both a leap of faith, and his extensive financial expertise when he left the banking industry in 2019 to establish ‘Financial Management and Planning Ltd’ (FM&P) - a business providing planning and management advice for farmers.
Focus only one in the game
Richard says that he stepped away from banking after nearly 40 years because he could see a gap in delivery where farmers weren’t getting the support needed to plan ahead and see their business thrive.
He says planning is number one in business - "if there’s no plan there’s no control, no certainty over what happens next which can lead to poor decision making and added stress.
“I am a financial planner by nature and experience and when I started looking around for an online management tool suited to farming, I was surprised to find there was only one in the marketplace.
“Farm Focus is it and has been developed and designed here by farmers for farmers. With a large rural sector, I really thought there’d be a number of options available but Focus has no direct competition.”
Richard says he tried Figured and using their tracking system for example was difficult. “Figured uses a process where incorrect info can’t be changed – it's there at the top of the page for years! I called head office to find out how to correct numbers, as in - had I missed something? - and was advised in my case I may need to re-install the programme! This is the only way to make a data correction.
“MYOB is the same. It is crazy both systems are so restricted and there is no appetite by either to look at or change these issues. Imagine the time and effort that must go into fixing what could be a minor mistake when trying to reconcile at months end!”
Richard says with Focus its simple to tweak detail and you are always working with the latest information.
“It’s safe to say no farmer wants to spend more time in the office and this is where Focus is a game changer. You can log in anytime from anywhere so there’s no need to stop work to go home and check detail - best of all those tedious month end tasks of finding, then matching up invoices and receipts and inputting are gone, a thing of the past!
“Reconciliation is automated - invoices can be pre-coded using your own codes, saved and automatically matched against your bank statement over the month. I know clients who used to drop off a huge amount of financials to be inputted at month end but happily that’s a thing of the past.
“If you do receive an invoice by snail mail this can be scanned using the Focus scanner and saved– at the end of the month push the button and move on!”
Richard says information tracking is an important part of his work and Focus has some useful tools in the toolbox to help him show clients where they are at, and how they can make a tweak to their plan to change up a gear.
“Clients can tick a box to give myself or their bank manager, any advisor online access to their business account which saves a heck of a lot of travel in country districts. I can drop in and out and check account details with no waiting around for either party.”
He says being able to get online on the same screen with his clients is great because they’re talking about the same thing and farmers can see how to do stuff.
“Saving money is a big driver and Focus helps there too. Some used to get their accountant to code their invoices or complete GST returns which cost them. Coding in Focus is simple so there’s no need to pay someone to do it for you. You can also choose your own codes which make sense and, if you do make a mistake, it is easily fixed. GST returns are the same – the process is streamlined and pretty easy to follow.”
Richard says his first decision to work for himself has changed life for the better and his second decision to help move his clients onto Farm Focus has changed their lives for the better as well.