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Rabobank kicks off new series of Financial Skills workshops for farmers

Farmers across New Zealand will soon have the chance to develop their financial skills – free of charge – at a new workshop designed to help them take more ownership of their farm business finances.

The new workshop is the second module in Rabobank’s Financial Skills Workshop series which launched in mid-2021. The latest module focuses on helping farmers understand key financial numbers for the current season and looks at how they can plan for, and respond to, scenarios where cashflow deviates from budget. The one-day workshop is facilitated by Lawrence Field from Rural Field Consultants and is open for attendance by clients and non-clients of Rabobank.

Pilots of the new workshop took place in Ashburton and Balclutha last month and further workshops are being organised in approximately 20 other locations across New Zealand over the remainder of 2023. The next scheduled workshop is set to be held in Stratford, Taranaki on Tuesday, May 23.

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 Rabobank Financial Skills Workshop series was set up to enhance farmers’ financial literacy skills.

Financial Skills Workshop Ashburton

Financial Skills Workshop Ashburton

Since mid-2021, more than 475 Kiwi farmers have attended module one workshops in more than 25 locations across the country.

Rabobank Upper South Island Client Council member Steven Bierema said the new workshop expanded on the information presented in the module one workshops which focused on reading financial statements, key ratios and calculations, and what banks are looking for when assessing a farming business.

“Given the current environment of high product prices, high inflation, increasing regulation, competing land uses and increasing interest rates, the demand has been strong for a follow-up workshop which helps farmers navigate all the market volatility,” he said.

“So we worked alongside course facilitator Lawrence Field to develop this new module which will help farmers to better understand how they are tracking towards budget, and what can be done if things veer off track.

“The workshop also looks at the importance of clearly communicating modifications to the plan for the current season with key advisers, and how any changes translate into longer term business planning.”

Mr Bierema attended the Ashburton event and said the workshop content helped highlight how regular financial monitoring was fundamental to the achievement of long-term business goals.

“Many of the farmers who attended the recent workshop got into farming because they enjoy being out on the farm, and reviewing financial statements is not the type of task that spins their wheels,” he said.

“So it was really important the course content quickly captured their attention and linked in to what they want to achieve on their farming operation.

“Fortunately, Lawrence, our workshop facilitator, has a great capacity to communicate with farmers and explain the course objectives and key concepts in a way they can relate to.

“It was pretty clear early on in the day that all the farmers were engaged, and I felt a real eagerness among the attendees to better understand the financial performance of their businesses.”

While farm financial performance was impacted by many factors outside farmers’ control, Mr Bierema, said the workshop helped farmers hone in the variables they could influence.

“Outside of non-negotiable farm business costs, like staff payments and interest costs, farmers have significant flexibility to adjust many other costs within their business, as well as significant scope in how these costs are funded,” he said.

“And the workshop helps farmers to look closely at the levers they can pull to drive a favourable result.”

Ashburton pilot workshop participant Liam Alley, who manages Willsden dairy farm near Dunsandel, said he went to the workshop concerned other attendees would have more financial knowledge than him.

“I was aware several farm owners who had a lot more experience than me were going to be there, and I was a bit worried I’d be a bit behind in this area,” he said.

“But I quickly realised that everyone on the course was still learning as well, and I really got a lot out of the day.”

Liam said he “really rated” Lawrence as a facilitator and found the examples he provided throughout the day very relatable.

“There was heaps of useful information, but one of Lawrence’s bits of advice that I really liked was to be an autumn spender, not a winter spender, as in the autumn you have a much better understanding of your farm’s financial position,” he said.

“The workshop gave me a much better understanding of the importance of being prepared for different scenarios and I’m definitely keen to attend any follow-up financial workshops that might take place down the track.”

More information of the new Rabobank Financial Skills workshop module can be found on the Rabobank website - Rabobank Client Councils | Rabobank New Zealand. Attending module one is not a pre-requisite for attendance at the second module, however some understanding of Financial Statements and what lenders look for is desirable.


Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 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 10 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 offices throughout New Zealand.

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David Johnston
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Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 04 819 2711 or 027 477 8153

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