Thursday, 25 April 2013

Inter-professional working

Judy Pearson, a Rural Chartered Surveyor from Chesterton Humberts, Stamford writes about the latest Landbridge publication
Networking can be defined as ‘a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest’. In rural based industries our common interest is more often than not, our client. Farmers and landowners are the reason for our parts of the jigsaw puzzle, they connect all sorts of specialists.
I read the Landbridge document on inter-professional working with great interest. The issue of competition within sectors, is something that we deal with every day as agents. The report details that businesses offering new services outside of their traditional profession increases competition. This rang true with me when I considered the number of firms that now offer advice on renewable energy, a relatively new area of expertise which most firms of agents now offer advice on.
I note the quote in the report from an annoyed land agent who speaks of accountants and solicitors carrying out valuations accusing them of taking his work away. In some circumstances I can understand why this would be frustrating, but creating an issue and not wanting to work cohesively with other professions is something, in my opinion, that must be avoided. In a job which has a diverse range of specialisms and clients, it can be beneficial to see our role as ‘part of a team of advisors’, for example, working with solicitors and accountants not against them.
The report states that important strategies to make inter-professional working succeed include reciprocity and acknowledging the expertise of other professions. Sharing knowledge between professions is certainly something I try actively to do and it has its benefits. For example, often solicitors who need clarification on things such as an intricacy of the Single Payment Scheme or something similar will call to ask the question. The favour is usually returned with that tricky question on tenancy or land law which you just can’t seem to find the answer to. Equally, having relationships with other professionals means that if something comes up for one of their clients which is out of their professional remit, they may recommend you to their client. This is one way that new business is won. Nothing is more valuable than a good reputation, which makes networking and inter-professional working invaluable.
Reading this report really enlightens you about the benefit of working with others. As an agent there are a multitude of formal networking events that one can attend, but what is often just as useful is picking up the phone and talking to other professionals and arranging an informal meet up, perhaps a sandwich one lunch time to have a chat about what you do and the practice areas you specialise in, in an informal setting.
Networking and inter-professional working in the rural industries is incredibly important, especially in an age where so much information is available online, it is imperative to keep in contact with specialists in different areas of work to chat through issues with. Working together not only has many benefits for the professional, but many benefits for the client including increased efficiency and potential to reduce costs.
I recommend reading the report to get a full understanding of the issues it discusses, it is available at:
Judy also runs her own social media campaign, find her on twitter: @blondeagadvisor , read her blog:

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What is the value of advice?

Corrina Gibbs, Policy Co-ordinator at Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC)

Advising farmers is what members of the AIC do, so of course we think that’s a useful job.  But it was very gratifying to hear Ministers from both Defra and BIS agreeing that advice from professional advisers in the commercial sector is a vital way to transfer knowledge and innovation onto farms across the UK.  Sir James Paice MP,  Minister for Agriculture and Food David Heath, and Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, kindly supported the launch of AIC’s “Value of Advice” report at the House of Commons, along with an array of industry representatives.

Publication of the report is an important step in a process that began last autumn. Although technical advice is part of the very fabric of farm life we felt that its importance has often been overlooked. Nor perhaps, has it been realised how much the nature of that advice has changed in recent years with a focus on resource efficiency and the delivery of environmental outcomes to address the challenge of sustainable intensification.  A research project, looking at these issues, seemed timely.

The AIC research was unashamedly ‘farmer-centric’, making the farmer and their business the focus of our research. We therefore engaged with farmers and advisers and it became clear that there is a ‘home team’, which led to the development of the AIC Ring of Confidence. Unsurprisingly, given the isolated nature of running a farm, the decision maker at the centre needs a ring of people whom the farmers has confidence in. This includes professional advisers, ranging from agronomists to land agents, from feed advisers to seed representatives - who provide tailored up-to-date advice and act as a sounding board for farmers’ plans and aspirations. There is an outer ring of advisers (consisting of government inspectors and advisers), who tend not to be seen as the ‘home team’. Many farmers tend to have less confidence in their advice as it if often focused on specific policy objectives and may not be tailored to a specific farm, its enterprises and its aspirations.

There is significant potential for advisers from the inner and outer ring to work together constructively to deliver consistent and relevant advice to farmers. The recently published Defra Review of Advice and Incentives also recommends that this is a way forward under their new advice framework. So what next for taking forward the Value of Advice report findings? AIC will work closely with Defra and its agencies to further develop the advisory framework and also with BIS to flesh out the UK Agri-Tech Strategy. With at least 45 million each year being invested in R&D by AIC members they clearly have a key role to play in ensuring science gets put into practice.

The full Value of Advice report can be downloaded from our website.  If you have any queries about the project please contact me at