Figured Lending is helping young farmers take the leap from employment to self-employed business operator. Read how Ashburton contract milkers Ryan and Emma Braddock secured fresh working capital when their bank wouldn’t come to the party.
The great thing about Figured is that they recognised we weren’t going to have any income for the first three months, so we paid interest only for that period. We couldn’t have done this if we’d had to start repayments immediately.
Contract Milker, Longstream Farms
Contract milker Ryan Braddock and wife Emma will soon look back on a watershed year. It’s late November (peak milking season) and the young couple is six months into their contract with Rangitata Dairies-owned dairy farm Longstream Farms – a 516-hectare farm with 1,850 milking cows located just north of the Rangitata River, a 20-minute drive from Ashburton in Mid-Canterbury, New Zealand.
Temperatures and rainfall in the region are above average, and the grass is green and growing. However, running a large dairy operation isn’t without challenges, Ryan said, explaining that he likes to operate a team of nine full-timers, including two managers, to cover twice-daily milking at the farm’s two milking sheds.
“Staffing has been a challenge – we were down to a team of five at one stage – and that adds pressure. There are many moving parts in farms of this size, and it requires a high level of efficiency to reach targets.”
Ryan has worked in dairying for 13 years, the last nine on farms in Mid-Canterbury. He progressed swiftly to management roles and has also worked two seasons as a contract milker. Before taking the reins at Longstream Farms he managed a 2,100 dairy herd just north of Ashburton.
“I imagined a stepping stone before taking on a role this big. But it’s a position I’ve been working towards, and I’m really impressed with the Rangitata Dairies corporate structure,” Ryan said.
In switching from employment to running a contract milking business, the Braddocks worked with Michelle Martin, Senior Manager in the KPMG On-Farm Agribusiness team.
“Contract milking in the dairy industry is a good cashflow business when managed effectively,” Michelle said. “However, you need the right disciplines and behaviours in place from the outset to avoid potential pitfalls in the first few years. The industry is improving training and resources to help young people understand the pathway from farm manager to self-employment.”
Michelle helped the couple with their business structure and put them onto Xero and Figured to manage GST, variance reporting, budgets, and forecasts.
Previously having worked as a contract milker, Ryan knew the traps to avoid. “It would have been easy to go all in with new gear – bikes and vehicles. But it’s better to make do at the start and time your expenses. Michelle and Figured really helped, and I could see that our forecast was on the money.”
Michelle said KPMG’s On-Farm Agribusiness team and Dairy NZ tools and resources aimed to improve the financial acumen of dairy industry go-getters, enabling them to move into self-employment and business ownership. “We want people to grow financially, build equity, and to develop financially sustainable businesses,” she said.
The financial forecast also armed the Braddocks with business data to raise a six-figure tranche of working capital to secure farm staff and see them through the initial stages of their contract. They first approached their bank but were turned down when the equity-to-loan ratio in their proposal didn’t meet bank standards for lending.
Michelle then suggested Figured Lending – a flexible, unsecured lending facility for amounts up to $100K – and helped the couple with their application.
“The process was very smooth – once Figured reviewed our forecast and saw that we had the required sum of money in our account, they transferred the full loan amount. Obviously, they wanted to show a bit of faith in us, and I think signing a two-year milking contract helped,” Ryan said. “We’re on track to make the first principal repayment and repay the remainder over the next six months, with cash in reserve, which goes to show how good the budget is.”
Michelle said Figured Lending was ideal for young people, like Ryan and Emma, looking to progress from farm manager roles to self-employed contract milking or lower order sharemilking roles. “Figured Lending has filled the gap where banks are sometimes unable to lend. It’s a solution that worked well for Ryan and Emma,” she said.
Figured Lending has filled the gap where banks are sometimes unable to lend. It's a solution that worked well for Ryan and Emma.
Senior Manager Farm Enterprise, KPMG
Available to Kiwi farmers who have access to a Figured subscription, Figured Lending works with farmers and advisors, using farm financial data to streamline access to fresh working capital.
Michelle said the lending process, which requires applicants to submit a 12–24-month cashflow forecast, gives Figured the confidence to lend, and makes borrowers accountable.
“Figured understands data and transaction behaviours, and that borrowers are doing what they said they will do,” she said. “A budget holds borrowers accountable. Ryan and Emma have improved their financial practices and they’re on track to grow as a business and as a couple in the business.”
Flexible repayment options are a key feature of Figured Lending. It made all the difference to the Braddocks over the first months of their milking contract. “The great thing about Figured is that they recognised we weren’t going to have any income for the first three months, so we paid interest only for that period. We couldn’t have done this if we’d had to start repayments immediately.”
Figured Lending is making working capital more accessible to farmers. And while the online application process is relatively simple and quick, accountants continue to play a key role. The Braddocks wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The biggest thing is to build a relationship with an accountant who is knowledgeable,” Ryan said. “When we first sat down with Michelle, she knew exactly what we needed and how to get there. We couldn’t have done it without her. She is very interested in our lives – the first thing she asks is ‘how are the kids?’ Relationships are really important to me, especially when you consider the level of debt involved.”