Bank Accounts and Farming

We have had to change banks this month, the account belonging to the farm was opened in excess of 15 years or more ago. It was opened as an operating account for the trust (of which I am not a part of). The Directors of the trust as those that own the farm, DH, & the In laws. This has worked well for many years and will see it to cessation as time goes by. The Adelaide bank has sold off this section of the branch and the new company have decided to close that banking arm – FANTASTIC in the year of the Farmer NOT. We were sent a letter which gave us a one month period to find a new account, it has to have the basic criteria of having a cheque book, though these little paper slips are almost extinct some businesses can not be B paid, Anypay, pay at the post office or by cash they need to be done with cheque i.e. ASIC.

I have researched options and boy Banks cash in on small businesses, there are some that offer a 5 transaction limit then charge $1.60 per transaction after that and on average the farm would do 15 transactions per month on a slow month. This is on top of the account keeping fee and cheque book fee, etc. These are the days of the shareholder banks that make many millions in profit despite crying poor. Also we in the country are limited by closures and lack of branches, so we looked at what is available for convenience and closeness. with a limited time to do this we asked advice from our accountant and then proceeded to meet with the local manager.

Rural families are different from any others, the Directors are also parents, I have no legal claim to anything which is ok with me, it makes things difficult though. I am not a signatory on any of the accounts, though I do all of the book work for the business. This is not an issue for me as such in that it is only inconvenient at times when I need to have cheques signed. The request of the parents in opening the account is that they remain signatories and it has been requested that I am as well. The farm pays for many of the parents living expenses and will do until they are no longer with us, they have bequeathed their shares to each other and only after death does it become DH’s. There is no issue here, this is just the matter of fact, this is how they work and this is what farming families do. In the new ear of credit & debit cards, no pass books the issue now is according to the bank manager – how many cards do we issue and how many customer numbers are required, as they will remain signatories. Our Lovely bank manager found it a bit perplexing that the three directors would be signing and I would just be a signature and we only needed 1 card, 1 customer number.

There we all sat with the bank manager and he was working hard to accommodate us, it took him about 2 hours work to put it together and then we invited the parents in law to come and sign the paper work. 5 of us in his office and asking how many linking up of the accounts to other accounts did there need to be? Only 1 the current working Director. 4 cards? no we settle on 2, 1 for the current working Director and 1 for the book-keeper, bill payer then we even have to choose a colour of the card. This being done the parents in law sign and check that it is not stated that I am a Director but a signature only. Bank Manager then wants to show us how to use the accounts, register it and link it all up, I am in the far corner and can not see the screen (not helpful for the book-keeper really) so DH informs parents they can go, which they do albeit reluctantly. It is not that we hide anything from them, they get copies of the books annually or upon requests  it’s just that it has become in their words far too complicated for them to do all of this now (sign of old age).

This is how it rolls in rural families, sons and daughters may not own their own places till the parents pass on. It is restrictive and it is still controlling the lives of middle-aged children, in some it breeds resentment, others complacency and contentment in others. My DH is content with his lot which is lucky, he has been left to his own devices to run the property and the stock as he sees fit. He has always wanted what was fair rather than a pot of gold he had not worked for.