There are more contractor accountants and umbrella companies than ever before. In fact, new companies seem to be entering the marketplace on a daily basis! As a result, choosing the right provider for your circumstances may be difficult, and you may be left scratching your head.
With so many to choose from, how can you be sure which one will offer you the best, most reliable service? It’s not an easy question to answer. Still, we do have some invaluable advice that should make the experience far easier for you – choose an accountant or umbrella company that is accredited by the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA). Keep reading, and we’ll explain why this is so important.
Contractor financial services – a marketplace with a lot of choice
Churchill Knight & Associates Ltd was one of the first contractor accountants in the UK. Since we launched back in 1998, a lot has changed, and hundreds of additional accountancy practices have entered the UK marketplace. However, it’s not just the number of contractor accountants that has sky-rocketed. Look at umbrella companies, for example. Since HMRC confirmed changes to IR35 (off-payroll in the public and private sectors), the number of umbrella companies has dramatically increased.
As one of the original providers of contractor financial services, Churchill Knight welcomes a bit of friendly competition. However, we are urging contractors and freelancers to do their research – so they can choose an accountant or umbrella company that genuinely has their best interests at heart.
While a majority of businesses are offering dependable services and trustworthy support, some are looking to make money quickly and do not care about the welfare of their clients. If you accidentally choose an unethical accountant or umbrella company, the consequences could be life-altering. Tax avoidance schemes are preying on vulnerable contractors and freelancers and are selling them a dream. In reality, they’re encouraging you to take serious risks that could result in an HMRC investigation and unlimited fine. The dream you were sold may become a nightmare in a very short period of time.
The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association
The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (often referred to as the FCSA) is a membership body in the UK. They are “dedicated to raising standards and promoting supply chain compliance for the temporary labour market”.
Most recognised and respected industry body in the UK
The FCSA is the leading professional body, and their accreditation is the most respected and familiar symbol of compliance within the temporary labour market.
Strict Codes of Compliance
For an organisation to obtain FCSA accreditation, they must adhere to the FCSA’s strict Codes of Compliance. These were developed by Ernest & Young while consulting with HMRC and numerous stakeholders.
Thorough audits and assessments
Every accountant or umbrella company looking to obtain FCSA accreditation must undergo rigorous audits and assessments. To ensure there is no conflict of interest, these are conducted by independent and carefully selected assessors.
The FCSA confirm the “assessors are top-tier regulated accountants and solicitors bound by their own professional standards and code of conduct and are independent of the FCSA”.
Findings disclosed with HMRC
Copies of FCSA audits are sent to HMRC to ensure there is complete transparency. By becoming a member of the FCSA, organisations are happy to share all of their information with HMRC and are declaring that they’re compliant, ethical and have nothing to hide.
Providers must prove compliance every year
Every year, FCSA accredited businesses must be able to prove they are still operating in accordance with the FCSA’s Codes of Compliance. If an organisation is found to fall short of the high standards expected of them, they can have their FCSA accreditation removed immediately.
Recognised by recruitment professionals
Many recruitment agencies will have a preferred supplier list (PSL) that only features companies that have achieved FCSA accreditation. Recent legislation introduced by HMRC, such as the Criminal Finances Act (2017), means that agencies must refer their candidates to compliant services – or they could be held accountable and as a consequence, may be forced to pick up the outstanding tax bill.
By having only FCSA accredited providers on their PSL, agencies are both ensuring their candidates are in the very safest hands, and they’re safeguarding their business. And, they’re saving themselves a considerable amount of time because FCSA accreditation is a sure sign that a company is compliant and it means they do not have to carry out time-consuming due diligence for each provider on their PSL.
Churchill Knight is FCSA accredited
Churchill Knight is proud to be accredited by the FCSA, and we are committed to providing our clients with compliant accountancy and umbrella services. In achieving the accreditation, an FCSA spokesperson said:
“Congratulations to everyone at the Churchill Knight Group on achieving FCSA Accreditation. Passing the rigorous assessment to become an Accredited Member is not easy and therefore testament to their hard work and commitment. Any recruitment agency or contractor looking to engage them can rest assured that they are in safe hands”.
If you are interested in finding out more about our limited company accountancy, or you want to find out more about our PAYE umbrella company, please contact us or request a call back for a convenient time. You may also be interested in using our limited company and umbrella company calculators to see your potential pay retention.
Founded by an IT Contractor in 1998, Churchill Knight has become one of the most respected contractor accountants in the UK. We’ve helped over 20,000 contractors with their accountancy requirements. As well as our accountancy services, we also have an industry-leading PAYE umbrella company and dedicated in-house personal tax department. Whichever service you choose, you can move forward with complete peace of mind. We are proud of the reputation we’ve built over the years, and our FCSA accreditation proves how committed we are to compliance within our sector. Keep reading…