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Listen to farmer’s true needs

Financial planners can be intimidating and some don’t understand what our true needs are.

  • We need help. Our family is large and some actively involved and others not, yet everyone feels like they have an inherited right to the farm’s assets.
  • We need help to seek more financial management training so we can better manage our farm’s finances and ensure a smoother transition of the farm’s affairs to our children when they take over.

Asking for help from an adviser is an uncomfortable task for many farm families. There is a huge issue around trust and performance. Can I trust the person to really know what they are talking about? Will they follow through in a timely manner and really listen to what I want?

I’ve met a fair few farm folks this winter who are still looking for great advisers. Some have been burned in the past, so decide to stop looking.

Others have been literally “bullied” by aggressive sales tactics with their adult children being harassed at work, and so on.

The Canadian Association of Farm Advisors www.cafanet.com is a good place to start scouting for help. I am a member of this group and we tend to talk amongst ourselves as to who we feel does great work on behalf of farm clients. You might also want to quiz your neighbour and use some word-of-mouth referrals for expert advice.

I can’t believe the stubbornness of some people who refuse to go back to a doctor because five years ago the doctor didn’t really help them. If you don’t like the professional you are dealing with, keep seeking and searching until you find someone who fits the expectations you have and your needs.

I am finding a lot of farm folks don’t have a financial planner. I would like you to find a certified financial planner who can help you with your personal assets, your personal wealth bubble, insurance needs, and your lifestyle income needs for the 20 to 30 years that you will be in your role of “hired man, or helping mom” before you die in your late 80s. If you know what it costs you to live at the level that you prefer, and if you know you have farm income and non-farm income streams to sustain you, you truly will enjoy the peace and restful nights of financial freedom.

Sometimes we avoid facing what we know to be true. We are going to die, therefore we need to meet with a lawyer to update our wills, get enduring powers of attorney in place. We also need to meet with our doctor or health-care home-care workers to draw up a health-care directive or living will.

In January when the calendar turned to 2012 it dawned on me that I will be 56 in the fall. The average age of a widow in Canada is 56. Are you ready for widowhood?

Many of my coaching clients are dreaming about the “retirement goal of freedom 55” which always makes me smile when it is written by a 30-year-old. Most 62-year-old dads are never going to retire from the farm. I hope they will gracefully “reinvent” themselves as the hired man and intentionally mentor the next manager and successor.

When the cold wind blows, and the snowbanks are growing outside your window, make the call to your advisers to update your wills, your lifestyle plans, your investments and your physical health. Then call your family over for a potluck, just to celebrate being together as a family and listen to the true needs of your family this winter. †

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