There is so much choice out there if you are currently looking for an umbrella company. Whether you are considering registering with an umbrella company for the first time or are looking to move from one company to another because you are not 100% satisfied you will be spoilt for choice.
People often choose an umbrella company because their recruitment agency suggests a specific umbrella service. That is fine and thousands of our umbrella employees came to us at Exchequer Solutions because they were referred directly by a recruitment agency. However we do believe that it is important that individuals feel free to make their own choice about the organisation managing their money for them.
Here is some advice on how to choose an umbrella company
Do compare umbrella companies and what is on offer. Yes, compare prices but look at other things too. When and how you will be paid, service levels, how you can submit your timesheets and expenses, will you have a named contact? The best umbrella company won’t necessarily be the cheapest.
Think about what you need to make the process as straightforward as possible. For example if you prefer to do everything online do they have a portal that you can use?
Be wary of any organisation making promises that sound too good to be true, they usually are.
Look out for hidden charges such as entry and exit fees and minimum term commitments. One of the key benefits of operating as an umbrella employee should be flexibility so don’t sign a contract that ties you in.
Look for an organisation with a professional image
You can’t always judge a book by its cover but when it comes to choosing any sort of business partner then first impressions do count. If you are considering a company but their website doesn’t look professional or is littered with spelling mistakes then that’s not a great start. Offering a good umbrella service is all about attention to detail and accuracy. You want to trust your pay to an organisation that cares about getting things right.
Look beyond the website. Does the organisation provide a proper address? Could you turn up and see someone in person if you wanted to? How long have they been operating? A website tells you exactly what the business wants you to know but you can often glean more information about an organisation and its staff from LinkedIn. This will give you an idea of how big the company is, how long they have been established and what sort of professional backgrounds their staff have.
Ask around. If you are a contractor the chances are you know other people who are already using umbrella services. Find out about their experiences. We often find people come to us after trying other companies first. They come to us because they’ve been let down and then they stay because we really do deliver a quality service. By asking around you could potentially avoid the stress and hassle of using a company that wouldn’t live up to your expectations.
Speak to someone
At Exchequer Solutions we are always happy to talk to prospective new umbrella employees. Pick up the phone and call. If the phone isn’t answered politely and professionally then you know they aren’t the right company for you. If the phone isn’t answered at all during their office hours then they are definitely not the organisation you should register with.
Have a list of questions ready. A company providing a good service should be able to answer relevant questions with confidence. Be sure that they take compliance seriously and understand all the latest tax legislation. They should also be able to give you an idea of how you would benefit from using an umbrella service based on your specific circumstances.
Professionalism and compliance
If you are told you don’t need to provide receipts then alarm bells should be ringing. You will trust your umbrella organisation to manage your tax affairs so you want to work with an organisation that is fastidious about paperwork and detail.
Membership or accreditation
It is also worth looking out for relevant membership or endorsements. At Exchequer Solutions we are associate members of the FCSA. This membership demonstrates our commitment to professionalism and compliance. All associate members agree to adhere to the FCSA charter and self-certify to confirm their business is run by ‘fit and proper’ persons.
Once you have been through all the stages above you should be in position to make a useful umbrella company comparison.
If you are currently choosing an umbrella company we’d love to speak to you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch and see how we compare to the other companies out there.