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Paperless business relies on strong connection

A strong, reliable internet connection has become crucial for the growth of paperless business, New Zealand Agri Brokers (NZAB).

Three Canterbury-based banking professionals, Scott Wishart, Nathan Henry and Andrew Laming, set up the business in 2017 to help agri-businesses understand and articulate their strategy, financial performance and risk factors to their bank, while enhancing banking outcomes.

By harnessing the power of digital connectivity, the company has evolved to a team of 11, with offices in Christchurch, Timaru and Palmerston North.

Working remotely, and often in difficult geographic terrain, NZAB director, Scott Wishart, knows they “couldn’t operate without internet connectivity”.

Using Office 365 for email, document management and spreadsheets, NZAB has also added apps for customer and workflow management to become a paperless business.

“In terms of technology, we’re a totally cloud-based, paperless business,” Scott says. “That doesn’t mean we don’t print anything, but all our documents are stored electronically.

“We use industry-leading financial tools, such as Xero, Figured, and CashManager, and we pull data from these tools into our own systems to drive insights for our clients, as well as business insights for our board strategy. Our payroll is done through PaySauce, which is absolutely brilliant.

“Our documents are shared across the business, so, without access, we couldn’t collaborate with each other. Literally, everything we do requires connectivity.”

To achieve this high level of connectivity, the company engaged with Vodafone to provide fibre connections at the three offices, as well as mobile phones with data plans that tether to laptops and iPads in the field.

A typical working day for the NZAB team involves meeting with business owners and farmers on site, along with meeting with banks to discuss various client propositions.

“Banking is evolving,” says Scott. “The businesses they support have become more complex. Our typical client understands these complexities and recognises the value of specialist advice to ensure they can drive their business forward.

“We build enduring relationships with our clients, and become part of their advisory team, ensuring that the business continues to get the specialist advice it requires. Banks have confidence in our approach, and regularly advocate for our involvement.”

NZAB works with clients from Waikato to Southland. Scott says they work with all types of businesses and farming operations, but their niche market is large scale or complex agricultural enterprises.

Scott and the team regularly travel to remote areas of New Zealand, and often encounter challenges with cell phone coverage.

To deal with this issue, NZAB is also in the development phase of their own technology solution.

“We’d be able to better utilise other sources of industry data to add more value to our customers and further enhance the banking relationship.

“We’ve adopted a simple, no-nonsense approach to farming and banking, and we’re bringing independence and structure to businesses in a way that hasn’t been done before.”

To drive future growth, Scott says the business will focus on hiring the best people and supplying them with smart tools that enable them to work both effectively and efficiently.


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