Tag Archive: finance

Businesses Urged To Combat Energy Price Hikes

With energy prices becoming increasingly volatile, businesses across the regions are being urged to consider onsite energy and heat generation to save money, while also protecting natural resources.

Andrew Rollo, Head of Energy at George F. White, said: “Subsidies are reducing while energy costs are rising. The government FIT scheme for wind turbines is currently fully subscribed and grants for technologies such as solar have been greatly reduced over the past three to four years. This has dramatically reduced the attractiveness of projects which create and export energy.”

energy

“At the same time, purchasing energy is more expensive than ever for businesses across all sectors. Onsite generation can create power for as little as 3p per kWh, which is why looking into generating your own power or heat is an essential element in forward planning for businesses.”

There are several technologies that can protect businesses against the volatility of the energy market, including ground source heat pump systems which provide good returns for those firms currently using fossil fuels to provide heat for processes, working environments and storage spaces. There are other initiatives that help shift consumption away from peak periods such as the emerging battery storage market and Demand Side Response Scheme. These are available at zero capital cost; the investment being made by a third party with benefits being shared between developer and consumer. When businesses generate their own power, they can effectively fix their energy cost for up to 25 years, which not only creates huge savings but also enables effective long term financial planning.

Andrew added: “We work independently with a wide range of businesses that consume large amounts of energy or heat, helping them to identify and deliver sustainable energy initiatives that will benefit their bottom line. We perform feasibility studies which enable clients to understand the specific benefits of the project and any associated risks before embarking on a particular energy project. Once an initiative is under way, we work closely with the client, offering a turn-key service to take the project from initial feasibility to final commissioning. On completion of the project, we can then manage the asset appropriately to optimise efficiency and ensure its profitability and longevity.”

To find out more about alternative energy initiatives and how and why they can work for your business, please contact Andrew Rollo on andrewrollo@georgefwhite.co.uk  or 07545 920905.

Why the right support network is vital to your farm

It’s less than 12 months until the UK leaves the European Union, a key political shift that will have sweeping changes for farmers across the region. To manage and adjust to the challenges this will bring, and ongoing uncertainty, financial resilience is vital.

farm

Farmers need to focus on improving productivity, in order to increase future sustainability and, given the expected changes in funding and grants, the farming sector needs to move away from relying on subsidies and prepare for a future with reduced financial support by investing in new technologies, creating new revenue streams through diversification and concentrating on succession planning to ensure the longevity, and security, of their farm.

Having in place the right support for your farm business is therefore vital, not only to help you through these uncertain times but also to help maximise the health and profitability of your farm during good times too. Being proactive, and planning ahead, is more important than ever before and a good farm consultant helps farmers to push their business forwards, strategically plan for peaks and troughs all year round, and capitalise on opportunities that would greatly benefit you and your farm, helping to meet your personal and business objectives.

George F. White is one of the largest farm consultancy teams in the North and we’re currently working with a wide range of farms, large and small, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, reviewing the overall health of the business and proposing solutions to farmers to help them overcome the challenges they face. We understand that each farm is unique, and each farmer receives a bespoke service tailored to their specific needs and requirements.

We often hear that consultancy services are for huge farms, or those facing difficulties, but this really isn’t the case. What’s important is that you and your farm have the right support structure, whatever size or type of farm. What matters is developing a close working relationship with your consultant so that you trust them to advise you appropriately, to help you achieve the best outcomes for you personally and also your business.

Desk based consultancy isn’t going to achieve this, which is why our farm team have lots of face to face contact with clients, visiting farms regularly, looking at stock, crops, and machinery and assessing its strengths and challenges to decide where next to take the business, or strategically advise on what it needs at that time, whether that’s preventative measures, business planning and cash flow management, or preparation of funding briefs and farm budgets.

We’re not just a fair-weather consultancy either – we offer all year-round support to help you overcome business and financial hurdles, to maximise profitability. We understand it’s often difficult to let an outsider in, which is why establishing a strong, close relationship is vital from the beginning, working together proactively and planning ahead to help you get the farm business to where you want.

To discuss our farm consultancy services in more detail, contact Elliot Taylor on elliottaylor@georgefwhite.co.uk.

How Sustainable is your Business?

With the frustrating harvest season now over, it’s a good time to take stock of your farm business. How has your business done this year? What financial support have you had to help sustain and grow your business? What’s the outlook looking like for 2018 and beyond?

Sustainability

Farmers should be thinking about all of these questions and looking at their business from a long-term perspective. They need to consider whether their business is truly efficient and sustainable, especially in the current climate, that is only likely to get tougher once the UK officially leaves the European Union (EU) in 2019.

Although EU subsidies are guaranteed until 2022, under the current government, the picture after that is very unclear. Safeguarding your business therefore really needs to be the ‘top tick’ on your business to do list. Farmers need to weigh up whether the business, as it is, can sustain changes and circumstances outside of their control and whether they will have a healthy cashflow pipeline not only to survive but grow, too.

If you’re unsure what exact shape your business is in, now is the time to understand how sustainable your business is. This may then lead to a diversification or improvement in efficiency of the business.

We are currently working with several farm businesses, helping them with their financial planning, talking them through their funding options and how to manage cash flow better. We’re also providing support in business continuity and recovery, working with banks and accountants to help plan for the future, and meet the challenges the business may face. Cash flow monitoring and forecasting can be a vital management tool and integral part of understanding how a business can progress.

While assessing the health of their business, some farmers realise that, to sustain it, they need to diversify. With many farming businesses now looking at another enterprise that would increase profitability and, crucially, sustainability. There are a number of grant funding opportunities out there to help businesses with capital investment in order to secure another revenue stream.

The key to diversification is to find a service that you can deliver, that is genuinely a passion, and also a niche market that can succeed and provide a second revenue a stream to boost the sustainability of your farm business. Diversification, if done properly, can provide great results.

For more information about business monitoring and sustainability, or a chat about diversification, please contact David Hume on davidhume@georgefwhite.co.uk or on 01665 511986.

Are fixed rate finances the way forward?

Since the worldwide crash in 2007/2008, UK interest rates have been at a record low, they were recorded at their lowest last month by a further decrease to 0.25% in the wake of Brexit. I am told by an eminent economist that if the country was running normally the Bank of England’s base rates should be 5.5% on average, what I am finding now is that after nearly eight years of low interest rates, most people are viewing the 0.5% Bank of England base rate as the norm.

Money has been cheap, particularly for farmers, over the last few years which has certainly influenced the land market meaning that Brexit has had one useful impact, in that those customers looking for long term fixed finance can benefit from exceptionally low rates. The fixed rate finance market has been likened to a government bond tracker, a lowering of government bond values (such as it was in the wake of Brexit) results in lower fixed rates deals. It is good news to hear from most financial institutions lending to farmers that is it business as usual following Brexit and the appetite for lending still there.

Now some farmers are capitalising on the cheap rates by leveraging out their farming assets over long term 30 year fixed rate deals at under 3% all in and are using the funds to invest in higher yielding non-agricultural property. Fixing gives certainty as to annual payments, but may have disadvantages such as early redemption penalties etc.

If you have variable rate finance at the moment it may be wise to consider fixed rate finance. The key questions to ask are what would payments be on your existing arrangement if the Bank of England base rate is 5.5% and is there any loan covenants that give a bank the ability to renegotiate or call in a loan?

Of course interest rates may remain low for many years to come or they may jump up significantly. If I knew the answers I would be sailing in a yacht in the Bahamas, however I do think there is merit in hedging against the risk of increased interest rates giving certainty for the future. If and when interest rates rise, the fixed rate market is likely to be much more expensive than it is now.

Andrew Entwistle is a partner with George F White who procures funding for clients from a wide range of sources, including High Street Lenders, Agricultural Mortgage Corporation and private equity. Andrew can be contacted on 0797 751 8156.

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