Oxbury Bank ready to revolutionise agricultural finance – Agronomist & Arable Farmer
A new specialist agricultural bank is nearly ready to launch, offering financial services specifically designed for British farmers and backed by key agri-business firms ...
Established through a collaboration of experienced bankers, farmers, and technology experts, Oxbury Bank is set to provide farmers and growers with a range of lending and savings products designed to help producers to manage their input costs and grow their businesses at a crucial time for UK agriculture. The bank is geared up to go live in December.
Managing director and co-founder Nick Evans says: “Since AMC was taken over by Lloyds in 1993 there has been no other UK-based bank focused solely on the agricultural market and the needs of British farmers. The likes of Rabobank, Crédit Agricole and the Agricultural Bank of China are among the biggest banks in their respective countries, so the concept is not new.”
He said Oxbury’s founding team and investors are farmers and agri-business companies that know the importance of farmers to the UK economy and rural communities. Already four companies: H L Hutchinson, Frontier Agriculture, Mole Valley Farmers and KW have signed up with the bank to allow their customers to use the service. Other companies such as Carrs, Wynnstay are also in the pipeline to sign up with the service. Planning for this started almost three years ago and shareholder investment in the bank is coming from farmers and the supply chain.
“Oxbury does not employ sales staff to sell its products to the farmers,” adds Mr Evans. “The leads to the potential customers will come from distributors in the supply chain. We are employing agriculturally trained relationship managers, many of whom are farmers sons and daughters who understand the industry, they will maintain a one-to-one relationship with the customers. There will be no pressure or call centre selling. The aim is to provide farmers with quick service and a yes, or subject to, answer within 24 hours of receiving any request.”
The bank’s core product is Oxbury Farm Credit, designed to be a financially competitive alternative to a bank overdraft or trade finance. Initially, this will be available to medium-to-large arable or dairy farmers who are current customers of the distributor partners. This account will allow farmers to ‘address the imbalance in the supply chain’ by buying inputs when needed and then paying when their cashflow allows, Mr Evans says.
As well as Oxbury Farm Credit, the bank is offering its other main product, Oxbury Farm Loans. This service provides farmers with long term loans for: land purchase, land improvements, diversification and climate related investments, which according to Mr Evans is going to be increasingly important as the industry strives to be carbon neutral by 2040.
“Anybody will be able to take advantage of the Oxbury Savings Accounts,” adds Mr Evans. “Once the bank is launched, we will offer a range of competitively priced and digitally accessible Instant Access, Notice and Fixed-Term Savings accounts. Investors will be assured that every pound saved goes to support British agriculture and nothing else.”
One of the key components of the new bank is the fact that the technology is integrated with the bank’s approved suppliers, so the borrowers’ input invoices are automatically uploaded into a secure online platform, allowing access 24 hours a day.
Users can review their account in real time, query and pay invoices, make repayments and monitor monthly outgoings all in one place.
Further expansion across agricultural sectors and with more distribution partners will take place over the coming months and years. Longer term loans will also be available to drive investment in the productivity and sustainability of UK farming.
“The industry is facing many changes in the long and short term, including climate change, loss of subsidies, Brexit and COVID- 19. All of this means that the arrival of a solely agricultural bank is timely. The research suggests that there is significant demand and we forecast as many as 1,000 customers by the end of the first year,” added Mr Evans.