Around the kitchen table
Farm secretaries are integral to any farm business, but why?
With increasing legislation for farm businesses, there has been a surge in demand for farm secretaries. Farm Secretaries are integral to any farm business; looking after budgets, accounting, recording and monitoring and other financial aspects provide vital information when making key business decisions. George F. White farm secretary, Emma Pate, explores the importance of the role as well as the opportunities for those coming into the industry.
Emma studied Rural Business Management at the Scottish Agricultural College with the view of working within the agricultural industry. During her fourth year she took a placement in our Duns office, it was then that she realised how versatile and rewarding the profession could be and was offered a full time position after she graduated.
Emma said: “I realised that I just couldn’t sit at a desk from 9-5 every day, I am a ‘people person’ and I need that interaction and ability to get out and see different places and faces. Each day is so different and the variety really drives me forward.”
Of course, being a farm secretary comes with its challenges. The regulations surrounding not only the industry, but technology and finance, are constantly evolving making it extremely difficult for traditional farmers to keep up.
Our farm secretaries are currently focusing on and providing training opportunities regarding ‘Making Tax Digital’, a fundamental government change for business reporting. From April 2019 VAT registered businesses will be required to maintain digital records using software which is compatible with HMRC’s systems and to file their VAT returns directly from these systems. From April 2020, at the earliest, quarterly digital reporting of Income Tax and Corporation Tax figures will be introduced thereby increasing the scope of businesses requiring compatible software.
However, no matter what industry you are in, every challenge is worth it.
Emma continues: “Being able to build up a portfolio of clients, all with different needs and then being able to offer the service they require and exceed their expectations is the best feeling. It doesn’t just apply to my role of being a farm secretary – I am able to introduce my clients to other service leads within George F. White such as planning, energy and our rural professional team. I see their visions become a reality; those farm buildings they were thinking about renovating or that piece of land they weren’t sure what to do with. It gives you a real sense of satisfaction.”
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of young farm secretaries, like Emma, coming into the industry. The average age of a farm secretary is 60. With so much opportunity, change and demand, it has become vital that as an industry, we fulfill the demand by expanding our farm secretarial services. It is a fantastic way to get into the agricultural industry and provides you with the perfect platform and training to further progress, be innovative and get results.