Publications

Money talk : How relations between farmers and advisors around financial management are shaped

Hilkens, Aniek; Reid, Janet I.; Klerkx, Laurens; Gray, David I.

Summary

The nature of interactions between farmers and advisors is the focus of a growing body of research. While many studies explore the potential role of advisors in facilitating farmers’ practice change in practices related to agricultural production such as soil, water, pest and animal health management, studies that specifically investigate how advisors support farmers with financial management (FM) are limited. The contribution this paper makes is to identify who farmers’ FM advisors are and to shed light on how farmer-advisor interactions about FM are shaped. Semi-structured interviews with both farmers and a range of advisors (bankers, accountants, farm management consultants, specialist financial advisors and industry funded advisors) were conducted. The main findings are that farm financial information and FM are considered to be sensitive topics and being good at FM is not central to farmers’ identity (relative to e.g. production management). Due to the sensitivity and taboo around the topic and the low level of interest in FM, most farmers do not actively seek to acquire financial advice. Farmers most openly discuss FM with their banker and accountant and some seek advice from farm management consultants. Advice seeking from other advisors was limited. Theoretical implications are that FM as a topic of advice introduces unique dynamics to interactions between farmer and advisor, which highlights the importance of better consideration of taboo and sensitive topics in advisory interactions. Furthermore, the findings on how the bankers’ authority impacts on the advisory relationship with farmers indicated that issues of power in view of such authoritative advisory relationships need to be better considered. To enhance effective provisioning on FM advice, policy could focus on improving the match between demand and supply, and help create awareness about the importance of discussing FM to reduce the sensitivity of the topic.