Contractor Advice: Competitor Comparison

Top tips on choosing any umbrella company or contractor specialist accountant.

There are tens of thousands of accountancy firms and umbrella companies out there: Giant Umbrella (with Strongbox), Parasol Umbrella and Brooksons Accountants, to name but a few. Nearly all have testimonials on their site (we do), but what firm would ever post negative comments about their services.

Choosing a firm of accountants or umbrella company that meets your requirements and fits your particular needs doesn't have to be difficult. You may also like to read our popular guide to choosing an accountant.

Find below a few hints and tips:

Can they provide all the services you need?

If you do decide to use an umbrella company to start with, you may well choose to move onto your own Ltd Company after a few months or so to take advantage of all the tax savings. Firms like Giant and Parasol Umbrella do not provide accountancy services and so you will be forced to change supplier when you do decide to switch to your own limited company (click the link to read our guide to moving from Umbrella to Ltd Co).

What about the Managed Service Company rules? Do you still need to be worried?

April 2007 marked a massive change in the contracting landscape with firms like Brooksons Accountants and Giant Group being forced to totally reinvent, and in the case of Giant abandon their Managed Service Company businesses. This is because they operated in a way which the Revenue deemed to be no longer legal (obviously, at the time they operated as a managed service it was totally legal and within the legislation). As a specialist accountancy firm, SJD was never affected by the MSC rules according to both the Revenue and KPMG alike.

Give the company a call

Do they answer in person or are you subjected to press one or press two? If the old saying is still true ‘Yes, of course your call is important to us’ – why do so many companies install automated telephone services to make their lives easier? We know for sure it doesn't make customers lives easier. Surely if your call is important they will answer in person? Time after time automated call handling comes top of peoples list of things they hate about companies.

Is the sales and service telephone number the same?

Priority of calls is often given to new sales, it’s only once you are a client that you find out you can't get through. This is classic sales practice and I’m sure one which you have experienced as it is very popular with energy, telephone and satellite television providers. You call the sales line and the telephone rings once, you call the service line and you’re on hold for ever lost in an eternal loop of press one, press two.

Do you get your own accountant or tax expert?

You’re going to be speaking to your accountant quite frequently, especially in your first few weeks. You'll soon get bored of having to remind the person at the other end of the telephone, what it is you do, what the nature of your question is and what advice a different person gave just two minutes ago. Having to explain everything time after time is not a great customer experience. It makes sense to only work with a firm of accountants or an umbrella company that provides you with your very own dedicated accountant or tax expert.

Do you get an email address of a real person or just an info@ address?

Similar to the above point, you should be looking for the email address of your dedicated accountant or tax expert and not the general service address which is bound to get thousands of emails daily.

Do they have published service guarantees?

If you leave a message or send an email are there any guarantees you’ll get a prompt response? If not, why not? This is another leading complaint, you leave a message and nobody ever calls you back.

Fixed fee rather percentage of your income

We find it rather unusual that companies still charge a percentage fee of your contract value. It’s like the better you do, the more you earn, the more you pay. Believe us, the same amount of work is required for a person on a daily rate of £200 as for £500. How could we possibly warrant charging you more?

It’s your choice who you use

Nobody can force you to use a firm of accountants. There is no harm in a recruitment company having a preferred supplier list, but this doesn't mean you have to use the people on it. Ask yourself why the company is on the preferred supplier list. Is it because they are highly rated and come with a prestigious array of awards, or because they have paid the most to be on the list?

The choice is yours. We often speak to contractors who are moving from umbrella companies or even other accountancy firms, who haven’t had their own dedicated point of contact, who have paid a fortune in fees, and have been put on hold for what seems like an eternity.

There are good firms out there and switching accountants is easy

If you have any question about contracting or would like any further advice please call our new client services helpdesk on Freephone 0500 152500 / 01442 275789 or email nikki.hanlon@sjdaccountancy.com.

SJD Accountancy

SJD Accountancy are the UK's largest specialist provider of fixed fee, Limited company accountancy services to contractors; we've been acting for contractors across the UK since 1992 and have more than 15,000 clients.

We are the only national specialist firm of contractor accountants with offices nationwide. SJD Accountancy has more qualified staff than any other firm in our market with qualifications from the following major tax and accountancy bodies - ATT, AAT, CTA, ACCA, CA, ACA and FCCA.

  • Unlimited face to face meetings. This is a unique service only SJD Accountancy offers - unlimited face to face meetings across the UK - tax is complicated and sometimes only a meeting will do.
  • UK's Largest contractor accountants with more qualified staff. No call centres, no outsourcing, no automated call handling. Simply telephone, email or meet your own dedicated accountant* face to face.
  • Money back service guarantee. All your telephone calls and emails will be answered the same day or we will make a full refund of that months fee.
  • Outstanding reputation. We have won more awards for customer service and accountancy excellence than any other firm in our market, including: Best Accountant for Contractors, Accountant of the Year and Best Professional Service Team to name just a few.
  • All inclusive low cost fixed fee accountancy package which includes completion of accounts*, payroll bureau, dividends and corporation tax computations, personal taxation, free bookkeeping software, your own dedicated accountant* and all company returns for a fixed fee of £120 plus VAT per month.

If you have any questions about contracting or would like any further advice please call our new client services helpdesk on 01442 275789 or email: janice@sjdaccountancy.com.

Appoint SJD Accountancy and never worry about your tax or accountancy affairs again.

Form your own Limited company with SJD - our same day online company formation service includes company bank account set up, VAT/PAYE registration and advice on optimum share structure. 

You may also find the following pages, guides and case studies useful:

*If you would like us to complete your company year end accounts we simply ask that you have been a client of SJD for one year or have made 12 monthly payments. All accountants are part or fully qualified.