Team strengthens bank’s agriculture commitment

A NEW team of agricultural Wealth Management specialists offering expert financial planning advice to farmers for both personal and business matters, such as protection, pensions, investments and inheritance tax planning, has been launched by Lloyds TSB Agriculture and Bank of Scotland.

The 16-strong team will enhance the existing specialist agricultural banking network of nearly 170 farming-focused staff working from 53 dedicated offices throughout the UK.

Such a strong sector-specific approach is unusual and is believed to be unprecedented for a bank in UK agriculture, but it reflects the importance that Lloyds Banking Group gives the farming industry.

“Agriculture is now one of the most established key markets within Lloyds Banking Group’s commercial business and it continues to grow substantially year on year,” said director of agriculture Gareth Oakley.

“In 2010, we recorded 17 per cent lending growth to agriculture in the UK and attracted over 900 new farm business customers.

“We recognise that agriculture is unlike any other commercial sector in that it requires a bespoke approach to business management. The growth we are seeing shows how much our specialist teams are valued by customers.”

Mike Grant, director of the wealth management corporate and commercial business, added: “The need for a farming specific approach is no less important in all areas of financial planning.

“The modern farmer is responsible for a multi-dimensional business that requires careful financial, risk, marketing and people management.

“As a result, well thought-out plans that mitigate risk, attract and retain the best staff, and limit tax liabilities, are an essential part of successful business strategy

“Inheritance tax and succession planning are particular areas where we are finding farmers have an increasing awareness and require specialist input.”

Mr Oakley said: “A major advantage for our existing customers is that their agricultural manager will already have a good understanding of their business and will work closely with the wealth management specialist to help deliver the most appropriate solutions.

“This is an innovative development that will add real value to our relationships with our farming customers.”

While focusing exclusively on farming customers and offering a dedicated service, the new wealth management team has access to the full spectrum of resources available through Lloyds Banking Group. This will include very competitive pension planning and annuity options, access to a wide range of investment and protection products, and specialist expertise in crucially important areas like inheritance tax planning.

Lloyds Banking Group’s Wealth Management advisers are contactable through the UK-wide network of agricultural offices of Lloyds TSB Agriculture and Bank of Scotland.