Getting help with planning for the future

Planning for the future of a dairy farm business addresses complex financial, legal and operational issues. Plans need to be based on up to date information and take into consideration the unique characteristics of the people and the business.

It is important to seek professional advice to deal with the complexity involved and to get a range of perspectives. As a minimum, it is important to involve a trusted accountant, solicitor and financial planner. Many businesses find a meeting facilitator to be valuable.

Advisers will help to ensure that all of the important issues are considered, such as:

  • taxation implications and options;
  • retirement income planning;
  • personal risk management insurances and contingencies (income protection and death cover);
  • provision for active and non-active family members;
  • financial implications of transferring ownership of the business;
  • people joining or leaving the business and appropriate structures.

Advisers can also help to make sure that documentation is clear and unambiguous.

Who to ask?

Each of the advisers below have their own area of expertise and can provide necessary pieces of the plan to maximise the benefits to the business owner/s and meet compliance requirements. Rarely will one individual, or a single profession, be able to provide all of the advice that is required.

Get advice from a team of professionals

It is important to draw on the strengths of a team of professionals who can help.

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Dairy advisers/consultants with human resources training and experience

There are consultants who have completed human resource training specifically tailored to the dairy industry, who can help with the people issues that occur on a dairy farm. Many of them bring technical and business skills that will:

  • clarify objectives, evaluate business and exit strategies;
  • review financial implications;
  • help resolve conflicts and confusion;
  • assist in employee transition management;
  • help develop the business continuance plans and strategies.

They can also have input into the overall operations planning.

Consultants can be useful for checking the financial viability of options. You can search for advisers by name or location or obtain a complete listing. In addition, there are a number of other experienced consultants who work in agriculture who are able to assist with this process.

Accountant (and tax adviser)

Apart from the management and compliance accounting services, accountants generally can advise in planning to minimise capital gains tax, estate and other taxes for the current owner, partners and family members. Financial and security planning can also involve the use of trusts and other structures. Accountants and legal advisers should be consulted in this area.

There are two professional accounting bodies, both of which represent accountants across a broad range of skills: the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Certified Practicing Accountants Australia. Given the regional basis of dairy farming, it is often the case that the accountants who have most experience in our industry will operate from regional centres. Word of mouth from other farmers or advisers may be the best way of connecting with the right professional accounting assistance for each individual farm business.

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Financial planners

Financial planners can provide a broad range of financial advice. Advice can be given on investment strategies for personal assets outside of the business or for funds from the sale of the business. The adviser can help develop an appropriate strategy for investment and retirement funding. Many financial planners can assist with Centrelink advice and personal contingency insurance (income protection and death cover).

Where to find financial planners

The Financial Planners Association is a professional association of financial planners.Their website provides background in financial planning and also assists in locating financial planners across Australia. Many of these financial planners are members of accounting firms that provide financial planning as part of their services. Once again word of mouth from trusted sources can provide recommendations based on testimonials.

Rural financial counsellors

This is a free service to farm businesses under financial hardship that provides confidential advice on a range of issues and can be found in many areas – read more

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Legal advisers

A legal adviser can help the team chart a course of action by advising on legal issues as they arise. Once a succession strategy is determined, the legal adviser can play a key role in drafting partnership agreements, buy- sell agreements, employee equity agreements, create trusts and restructure corporate capital.

A key role for the legal adviser is assisting with the development of the estate plan for distribution of assets upon the death of an individual.

Where to find legal advisers

There are many legal firms that specialise in succession and estate matters. Those that operate in regional and rural areas are more likely to have worked with clients in the dairy industry. To find a lawyer to suit an individual farm business, advisers, accountants and other farm business owners may be able to provide referrals.

Bank or fund manager

A bank or fund manager will have an interest in the impact of succession on the business debt and future performance. They may also play a role if financing is a requirement in the plan.

Useful websites

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