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  1. #1

    Nervous Newbie


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    Default New umbrella company required!

    Hi, I'm currently using Parasol as an umbrella company but am thinking of changing for various reasons. Does anyone have any recommendations? I've been looking at Crystal Umbrella which is top of the league table according to freelancesupermarket.com but I'm not sure if they're any good or even reliable. Does anyone know?

  2. #2

    Some things in Moderation

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    All umbrellas are the same, I'd just check how long they've been around and that they won't go bust with your money still in their pockets.

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    Umbrella Queen

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    As Cojak says all umbrella companies work in the same way which means you will be paid via PAYE; if one company promises you a higher take home than another they may be assuming expenses that you are not entitled to claim. The only variance in your take home pay should be the umbrella company's fees. Therefore you should consider the service guarantees that they offer and how long they have been in business; you can also ask to see testimonials or ask for recommendations from fellow contractors. The umbrella league tables are often a reflection of the level of advertising that companies pay for on the site rather than a genuinely objective opinion.
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    Nervous Newbie


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    I just signed up with DROLE yesterday. Was going to go with Go Umbrella but couldn't get them to answer the phone, or call back (using their call back service). Got through to Drole no problem, and being there for many years gives me some confidence in them. So far so good - nice friendly and efficient service. Happy days.


    I'm new to this game, so what do I know....

    McT

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    Default so far so good

    I am currently operating under an umbrella company that returns me around 84% after being with Parasol for a while. Prompt payers, which is all I look for in an Umbrella company

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    Umbrella Queen

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    Quote Originally Posted by fspence View Post
    I am currently operating under an umbrella company that returns me around 84% after being with Parasol for a while. Prompt payers, which is all I look for in an Umbrella company
    Are you saying that your take home pay has increased through your new umbrella company fspence?
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    Quote Originally Posted by fspence View Post
    I am currently operating under an umbrella company that returns me around 84% after being with Parasol for a while. Prompt payers, which is all I look for in an Umbrella company
    Bollocks.

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    Umbrella Queen

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    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    Bollocks.
    Eloquently put Churchill But he's absolutely right - on a contract value of £300 per day you would need to be claiming expenses to the value of 60% of your earnings to retain 85% - unlikely to say the least
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    Fingers like lightning

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    Quote Originally Posted by stiders View Post
    Hi, I'm currently using Parasol as an umbrella company but am thinking of changing for various reasons. Does anyone have any recommendations? I've been looking at Crystal Umbrella which is top of the league table according to freelancesupermarket.com but I'm not sure if they're any good or even reliable. Does anyone know?
    Always look for an umbrella company that has a good reputation, will answer the phone and is finnacially sound. Whatever mktg spin they put on it everyone adheres (or should do) to the same regulation. I have used Contractor Umbrella & Parasol in the past and always been pretty sound.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stiders View Post
    Hi, I'm currently using Parasol as an umbrella company but am thinking of changing for various reasons. Does anyone have any recommendations? I've been looking at Crystal Umbrella which is top of the league table according to freelancesupermarket.com but I'm not sure if they're any good or even reliable. Does anyone know?
    I can see why you're looking at changing umbrella's then!

    I changed umbrellas a while back after being mucked about by a previous umbrella called Paramount, oh the horror stories! Just let me say to any using or considering them, get out now while you can.

    I went with Excellium for an assignment, nice, professional, good rates (from £9 net pw), would recommend to anyone. When I spoke to GFK they were very nice as well, over £15 net pw, but the service seems excellent, although I never signed up to them, but they were the nicest umbrella out of about thirty that I spoke to. Iím considering them for in the future, if things donít work out currently.

    Anyway, recently, I have been calling around umbrella companies again, as one contract specifies "preferred umbrellas".

    Quite frankly, it doesnít matter how good or bad Parasol is, quite frankly, they are a deceitful company I wouldnít touch with a bargepole. I called Parasol. When asked if they had a geographic number they refused to provide one, quite essential if I need to call them from my mobile for instance. They seemed very sketchy and I didnít get a good feeling from them whatsoever. There is NO reason at all for an umbrella to have an NGN and insulting to contractors not to offer a geographic number.



    My advice when looking at an umbrella:
    - If the have an NGN (0800, 0845, 0870), ask if they have a geographic number, if not why not? If they refuse to give you one then that isnít a helpful or open company. Do you really want exorbitant mobile charges, if you need to contact them while out in the field, or struggle to get a 3G connection and go through the palaver of going on the website to request a call-back?
    - Be weary of ones that promise to let you claim every expense under the sun. Keep in mind that an umbrella should always tell you to submit AND keep receipts, just because you use an umbrella, doesnít mean you'll never get audited/quizzed by the taxman.
    - Does the umbrella understand very basic concepts and terms. You wonít believe it, but two umbrellas out of a list of sixteen preferred ones on an agencies list got flummoxed at the difference between gross and net and couldnít give me a simple straight up figure. I had to explain to them how tax relief worked. Not encouraging at all.
    - Although you might not always speak to the same person, do they seem professional, helpful? They should, that's what you pay them for! They are there to take the hassle of a LTD company away. Your only responsibility with them should be, getting timesheets signed and expenses submitted.
    - The easier they make it to submit expenses, the better.
    - What are their terms for payment? What if the client doesnít pay, do they pursue payments?
    - Do they offer advance services? Do they charge a reasonable amount (under £10 for it)? If not, why not?

    There are a lot of other questions you may have, but my final recommendation is the best isnít always the cheapest.

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