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Rabobank Client Councils launch new workshops to hone farmers’ financial skills

Twenty-four farmers from across the Central North Island recently spent a day developing their financial skills for managing farming operations at the inaugural Rabobank Financial Skills workshop in Taupo.

An initiative of Rabobank’s Client Councils — groups of the bank’s farming clients who meet regularly to discuss issues and implement initiatives to contribute to sustainable rural communities — the ‘free of charge’ workshop was the first of a series, with further events set to be rolled out across the country over coming months.

Held late last month, the workshop was facilitated by Lawrence Field from Rural Field Consultants and included sessions on financial skills, reading financial statements, key ratios and calculations and what banks are looking for when assessing a farming business.

Participants on the inaugural Financial Skills workshop in Taupo

Participants on the inaugural Financial Skills workshop in Taupo

Rabobank Client Council member for the Upper North Island, Graham Law said the workshop was developed by the Client Councils to enhance farmers’ financial literacy skills and advance their agricultural careers.

“Farm financial statements are one of the most useful, yet least-used reports for farming businesses,” he said.

“And as a group, we wanted to give farmers the opportunity to learn more about how to read and interpret these reports and, ultimately, what they say about their businesses.”

Mr Law said participants had been highly engaged with course content.

“It really was a brilliant first workshop and it was very exciting to see the next generation of New Zealand farmers so engaged in the workshop content and so eager to develop their financial literacy skills,” he said.

“This was in no small part down to the expert guidance of workshop facilitator Lawrence Field. Lawrence really nailed it, and his humour, knowledge base and most of all, his passion for the subject really shone through.

“Many of the attendees were starting in business for themselves, leasing land or taking up farm management roles as part of family succession planning, and the new skills they picked up at the event will serve them well now and into the future.”

Course participants travelled to the event from a wide catchment area and included Janelle and Lance Downs, who run a sheep and beef farming operation in Eastern Taranaki. Mrs Downs described the workshop as “fantastic”.

“Given we make the decisions on our farm as a couple, it really was so valuable to get away from the farm for the day to take in the same information and develop our understanding of financial reporting together,” she said.

“The session where we looked at farming operations from a banker’s perspective was hugely beneficial and we now have a much better feel for what sort of information a bank manager is looking for and why they want it.”

Mrs Downs said the workshop did an excellent job of highlighting the significance of the ‘big’, on-farm financial decisions.

“You make so many decisions about the farm every day that it’s easy just to give them all the same attention, but the workshop really helped us to see just how important the financial decisions can be and why they require a bit more focus,” she said.

“This, in turn, highlighted to us how crucial it is to have the right on-farm data to help inform these decisions. And we’re now placing a much bigger emphasis on ensuring the data we’re using is an accurate as it can be.”

In addition, Mrs Downs said the workshop had prompted the couple to spend more time thinking about the long term strategic direction of their business.

“Following our attendance at the workshop, we’ve had a whole bunch of in-depth conversations about our plans for the next five, 10, 15 years and we’re now setting much more time aside for strategic planning than we did previously.”

Funded by Rabobank’s Client Councils, the New Zealand workshops are open to clients and non-clients of Rabobank and there is no cost for participants to attend. The next round of workshops will take place in Otago and Southland with dates now confirmed for workshops in Gore (10 August), Balclutha (11 August) and Naseby (12 August).

The New Zealand workshops follow the successful roll-out of Financial Skills workshops in Australia, where they have been running since 2019. Developed by Rabobank’s Client Council network in Australia, these events have proven hugely successful and more than 1900 young farmers across Australia have participated in workshops over the last two years.

Across New Zealand and Australia, the bank and its network of Client Councils are aiming to put 5,000 primary producers through Financial Skills workshops by 2025.


Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has nearly 120 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of about 8.6 million clients worldwide through a network of close to 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 32 branches throughout New Zealand.


Media contacts:

David Johnston
Marketing & Media Relations Manager
Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 04 819 2711 or 027 477 8153

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations 
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: +612 8115 2744 or +61 2 439 603 525