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Succession planning service launched to help farms stay in the family

Professor Matt Lobley joined a panel of farm succession planning experts to lead a debate, 'Playing the generation game', at NFU’s annual Conference in Birmingham.

NFU Mutual has launched a succession planning service to help farming families through the difficult process of bringing family members together to agree a plan for the long-term future of the farm.

  • New service helps farmers start conversations about succession
  • Only 40% of farmers have effective succession plan in place
  • Failure to plan long-term puts farms’ future at risk

NFU Mutual’s succession planning service takes farmers through a planning journey. It begins with a frank discussion involving family members’ views and ambitions and a clear plan of suggested steps they can take to reach their goals and hand down your farm effectively.

Delivered by specially trained NFU Mutual financial advisers, the service has been launched following research which found that less than 40% of farming families had an effective succession plan in place. To help farmers understand how to go about planning succession, a series of seminars will be held around the UK in 2016.

NFU Mutual has joined forces with Cornwall’s Rural Business School and the University of Exeter’s Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP) to highlight the issues farmers face when tackling succession planning.

To highlight the issues involved in succession planning, NFU Mutual hosted a panel debate entitled “Playing the generation game” on 24 February at the NFU’s annual Conference in Birmingham.

The debate was led by a panel of farm succession planning experts, including NFU Mutual Chartered Financial Planner, Sean McCann, Professor Matt Lobley from the University of Exeter and James Price, Farmers’ Weekly 2009 Young Farmer of the Year, who farms in Oxfordshire

'As the insurer of three quarters of the UK’s farms, we know that farms are not just a business but a way of life, often spanning generations and involving the whole family,' said Sean McCann, Chartered Financial Planner at NFU Mutual.

'Whether the plan is to hold onto the farm until death, or give it away during lifetime, having a plan in place will ensure the transition happens more smoothly – and our new service can help start difficult conversations and lead families through the steps to putting in place a sound, financially viable plan.'

'Planning for succession is an investment in the future of the farm and the future of the family - but there are many reasons why succession planning is difficult,' said Professor Lobley.

'It requires facing up to one’s own mortality and can also involve difficult conversations, which are often easy to avoid but are vital to begin the process.'

'Succession planning isn’t just about the transfer of assets such as land and stock but also intangible assets such as managerial skill and know-how. In order to set your successor up to succeed you need to plan to delegate managerial responsibility as well as, ultimately, ownership of the farm.'

Date: 7 March 2016

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