Wiltshire farm bookkeeper plants seeds of new enterprise with Ideal Schools
Being a farm bookkeeper and secretary is a labour of love for Kate Dell from Winterslow, Salisbury.
“I love the industry, because you can see what the farmers are growing and the impact of the job they’re doing,” Kate says. “Farmers are such lovely people. I’m not from a farming background, but they’re really helpful and will take time to explain things to me.”
Kate has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Geography from the University of Portsmouth and worked for almost ten years at Friends Provident, the former life insurance specialist that was acquired by insurer Aviva in 2015. During her time there, she became a Chartered Insurer through the Chartered Insurance Institute, the professional body for the insurance and financial planning profession.
“I then took about 11 years off to have three children and be at home with them,” Kate continues. “When my youngest went to pre-school, I needed a challenge, so I started studying. I wasn’t trying to be an accountant but was looking for a course that would give me a trade.”
Kate wanted to become a self-employed bookkeeper and could see that online home study specialist Ideal Schools could route her directly into the profession through the courses it offered with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), which promotes professionalism in the sector.
“I liked the online element – the fact that I could study at home in my own time and that there was a tutor at the other end of a phone or email,” Kate says. “The way of learning appealed to me, because I have three young kids and there are pick-ups and drop-offs in the mornings and evenings.”
Kate completed her ICB Bookkeeping Level 2 with Ideal Schools in 2016 and, in 2018, followed with ICB Bookkeeping Level 3 – the qualification needed to go self-employed. She collected her practice licence in March 2019 and is now working as a farm bookkeeper and administrator for a local farmer in Wiltshire, as well as building her own client base.
“I’m basically responsible for keeping suppliers paid, invoicing customers, running payroll for the farm’s employees, preparing monthly VAT returns and recording payments in and out of the bank,” Kate explains. “I also track the farm’s grain sales, keep their accountancy software up to date, record cattle movements, manage any records that the cattle man needs and keep in touch with vets about assurance schemes like the Red Tractor standard for food and farms.”
Kate’s other clients include a convenience store and a specialist supplier of granite and engineered quartz worktops for kitchens and bathrooms.
“I’d like to have more small clients so I can do their books from home, and also offer them self-assessment and year end accounts,” Kate says. “My next course with Ideals Schools is payroll management. I’m also planning to do their self-assessment course.”
In 2019, Kate was awarded the Continual Professional Development (CPD) Newcomer Award by the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators, which promotes and supports professionalism in the sector.
The award is one of two presented every year in memory of Elizabeth Roe, an IAgSA member who was renowned for her ultimate professionalism as a farm administrator.