As Controller at AgIS Capital, Bryan Filippi is responsible for asset-level financial management. He earned a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from California State University, Chico.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I was born in South Korea where I lived for the first four months of my life. My biological parents put me up for adoption during this time. I was fortunate enough to be adopted by wonderful parents and grew up with an older sister, who was also adopted. It just so happened that my parents lived in a small town in the Central Valley of California by the name of Ripon. One of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. I lived in Ripon until I left to attend California State University Chico where I received a B.S. in Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance. I moved back to Ripon after college and found a job as a Staff Accountant at a Farmland Management Company. I worked there for more than 10 years before I took the controller position at AgIS Capital.
What is a typical day like as an Accountant at AgIS Capital?
A typical day for me would depend on what day of the week, month, or year it is. On a more consistent basis I record daily cash entries, assist in our weekly AP process, and complete a monthly close process. Outside of those consistencies, my main focus has been directed towards further building out the operational reporting platform. I have been working with different farm managers to determine what information they need and what their preferred format is. I currently provide monthly cash budget vs actual reports to them. Recently, I have been spending time on a capital project database that will provide additional transparency into the specific development projects, as well as all other capital improvements. I have been working with our custom farmers and making sure they are providing us the information needed for tracking capital activity. This will be a timely process for the current assets managed. I am also working on the best onboarding plan for new assets purchased to integrate them seamlessly into the capital tracking and reporting process.
What do you enjoy most about being an Accountant?
I think that the most enjoyable thing for me is being able to provide data to people and being confident in the accuracy of that data. Part of being able to provide data is monitoring how it is being collected and entered the general ledger or other tracking databases. The information needs to be entered in a way that will be of use in future reporting. This requires working with farm managers and our custom farmers to work through the details in how we will receive and enter information. Going back and forth with these managers on all the details and then figuring out the best way to map the data and input it into our systems is extremely rewarding.
The use of Excel is another part of my job that I enjoy very much. I know that may sound crazy to some, but I enjoy learning more about what Excel can do. I have found that if you think of something that would be convenient to have as a feature, Excel usually already has it. Part of providing accounting information is building ad hoc reports in Excel and I do not think I could ever get tired of using Excel.
Why did you choose Agriculture and what helped you to make that choice?
I wish I could say I chose Agriculture, but I think it may have been the other way around. Being adopted and moving to the Central Valley of California is pretty much all the proof I need that Agriculture chose me. I could not tell you the odds of me growing up in Ripon when you take into account where I was born but I’m certain I would not have taken that bet. Beyond that, I grew up with almond orchards for miles around where I lived. I could not leave Ripon in the Springtime without being blinded by a massive white orchard of almond blossoms. Knowing I was going to stay close to my family, it was inevitable that I would be employed by Agriculture in some way or another. My passion for numbers and environment landed me the perfect job. A farmland management accounting position.
What is the most interesting part about your job at AgIS Capital?
Although I have been around agriculture my entire life, I have not had hands on experience with farming. As a farm property management accountant, I still don’t quite have the hands on experience but I do learn a lot through the numbers that I track and what they represent. I feel that I have learned a lot just through accounting for farmland activities. From time to time I do get to visit properties and that is when I can see the capital improvements that I track with my own eyes and this is what I find most interesting, learning about farming from an accountant’s eyes. I know that it doesn’t have the substance as being the boots on the ground, but it is amazing what you can learn about farming sitting in an office behind a computer.
What do you see in the future for the Agriculture world?
I see more subsidizing for the small farmer and more regulations for the institutional farmer. With the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) by 2040, California overtime pay changes by 2022 and all the safety regulations becoming stricter, cost to farm will inevitably increase. This is more specific to California but can be applied moderately to other agricultural regions in the United States. Farmers will need to be creative in finding cost saving measures to continue to make farming lucrative.
SGMA will change the way properties are modeled and farmed. Models will need to consider acreage unfarmed for recharge. Eventually, government programs will need to be put in place for buyers to be able to make acquisitions meet underwriting standards. Tracking water usage and recharge progress is going to be fundamental in California’s ability to fight water subsidence, so controlling costs will be more important than ever. Once things settle, the creative farmers will make everything work for their operation and will have a larger piece of the market.
When you have some spare time what do you like to do?
I spend all my spare time with my family. Between my wife’s family, my family, and the time I spend with my wife and kids alone, that covers pretty much all the time that I am not working. I can honestly say, I would not have it any other way. Although it is exhausting at times, it truly is what makes us all happy. When I have more spare time on my hands, I like to golf, hanging out with friends, going to comedy clubs, and eating at restaurants.