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A guide to being a Finance & Accountancy contractor

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by Rebecca Douglas | 25 April 2019

Have you wondered what it would be like to work as a contractor within Finance & Accountancy but not sure how to go about it or what the benefits might be? In this guide, Consultant Rebecca Douglas looks at why more-and-more candidates are considering Finance & Accountancy contract jobs, why she thinks more Finance & Accountancy professionals should consider it as a viable career move and offers her advice as to how you can become a success within the contracting market.

The Finance & Accountancy contract market is incredibly buoyant, and with roles ranging from Financial Controller and Finance Manger to Cost Accountant and Auditor it is more varied than ever before. This is because organisations are relying more-and-more on interim help to deliver key projects, cover extended periods of leave or to ensure productivity is not lost whilst looking for a permanent member of staff.

I speak with Finance & Accountancy candidates that are thinking about moving into the contractor market every day. We have therefore created this guide to relieve some of the concerns we regularly face and help more candidates that may be considering the move.

What are the main benefits of working as a Finance & Accountancy contractor?

One of the biggest benefits of being a contractor within the Finance & Accountancy sector is the speed in which candidates can find roles, and the flexibility it offers. When interviewing for a permanent position within the sector, candidates can often expect a lengthy process, which can leave job seekers without work for some time. Most of my contractors within the sector very rarely have this issue. Skilled Finance & Accountancy contractors can generally be interviewed, hired and start work within a matter of days, making the transition between jobs quick and relatively easy. This makes finding work much easier for contractors in my opinion. Candidates in the contract market that have a varied CV with no unexplained gaps are very desirable in the market. Moving between roles so quickly also helps candidates stay on top of current trends, giving them knowledge and experiences that other, permanent staff may not have, giving them the upper hand should they decide on pursuing a permanent role again.

Working as a contractor also gives Finance & Accountancy candidates the chance to work on a huge variety of projects, allowing them to learn and utilise different skills. This offers contracting candidates an unrivalled opportunity to develop different niche skillsets, making them even more desirable in the market. Finance & Accountancy contractors also have the opportunity to try our different markets and organisations, allowing them to pick and choose the type of work they do, whilst continuing to develop new skills from each assignment they take.

Finally, the financial benefits are usually much greater for Finance & Accountancy contractors than that of full time permanent staff. An average contractor rate can easily earn more than a full-time employee. For example;

  • A highly skilled Financial Controller can earn between £276 and £368 per day which equates to an annual salary of between £50,000 and £65,000.
  • Financial Planner & Analysis Manager contracting candidates can expect to earn between £276 and £322 per day, or an annual salary of around £46,000 to £60,000.
  • An Auditor in the contract market should earn between £184 and £230 per day which would amount to an annual salary of between £36,000 and £42,000.
What are the main challenges of working as a Finance & Accountancy contractor?

Finance & Accountancy contractors are paid a premium because of their skills and flexible nature, as such contractors are expected to start a role and hit the ground running straight away. This can sometimes be a daunting experience, especially if the business has a different way of working that a new hire has to get used to very quickly. Employers will expect a Finance & Accountancy contractor to work with minimal to no supervision depending on the size of the business, so it may not be a good career choice for candidates that would find this difficult to manage.

Finance & Accountancy contractors also need to be aware that they are very rarely entitled to the same benefits as full time permanent members of staff. Generally sick and holiday pay are bundled into the hourly rate that is offered, so if a contractor were to fall ill they would not receive anything extra for the period they are off work. This can have a negative impact on finances if not managed correctly, however most experienced contractors are aware of this and usually keep money aside in a separate savings account and look into health and life insurance for extra peace of mind.

How can a candidate get into contracting within Finance & Accountancy?

Before deciding to move into the contract market, Finance & Accountancy candidates need to thoroughly research the market to make sure there is demand for their skillset. Whilst doing this it is important to keep in mind the rates that are currently being offered and location to ensure a move would be financially beneficial. I would therefore advise candidates considering a move to discuss any concerns or questions they have with a recruitment professional or someone that is already contracting within the sector. Specialised Recruitment agencies will be able to offer up-to-date market knowledge and guidance, and can help with finding roles that are geographically viable and in line with a candidate’s skills and experience.

A common misconception about contracting is that candidates must be unemployed before finding a temporary position, however this is not the case. The flexibility of contracting means that contractors are free to move roles at any time, so it is important to constantly keep on top of the Finance & Accountancy contract jobs market. This is where a recruitment agency like Sellick Partnership could help! We can keep on top of the market for candidates, and always keep our contractors up-to-date with any roles that may be relevant to them.

It is however important to remember that reputation is everything as a contractor, so leaving an assignment early may impact a candidate’s chances of gaining employment elsewhere. That is why we always ensure that we time a candidate’s move correctly, so contractors are able to fully complete an assignment before moving on to the next.

How do Finance & Accountancy contractors get paid and how much can they earn?

There are two main ways Finance & Accountancy contractors can get paid, the first being through an Umbrella provider. Once a Finance & Accountancy contractor has signed up to an umbrella provider the process is simple. Candidates are required to submit a weekly timesheet that details the hours they have worked, which is then signed off by a representative at the employer. Sellick Partnership then pay the Umbrella provider who then pays the candidate directly. Whatever goes into the candidate’s bank account each week is entirely theirs as all taxes and national insurance deductions are sorted by the umbrella company.

The second option is to be paid on a PAYE basis through our payroll team. This in essence makes a contractor an employee of Sellick Partnership and means they will be paid through us.

Contracting through your own limited company is also another option and can be the most tax efficient way possible. Contractors will however need to understand IR35 in order to work successfully. Contractors that are working inside IR35 will need to pay income tax and NI like a regular employee. Candidates that land outside IR35 will be deemed as self-employed and will be able to enjoy the tax advantages of being self-employed. A contractor’s IR35 status will vary from contract-to-contract.

What are the career opportunities like as a Finance & Accountancy contractor?

As with permanent Finance & Accountancy positions, the career opportunities are endless for candidates that have the drive and determination to succeed. The sector is vast, so there are countless routes that candidates can take, and choosing the right one is essential. This is something a specialist Finance & Accountancy recruiter can help with. As a contractor, candidates also have the option to move sectors, and try different routes out, which can be hugely beneficial for someone that may not know what route they want to take.

Our Finance & Accountancy contractors regularly contact us to say how much they enjoy their job. If you are interested, or want to discuss what Finance & Accountancy jobs we currently have available, feel free to contact me directly or visit our jobs page to view our current vacancies.

Alternatively, you can keep up-to-date with all of our latest news and resources for Finance & Accountancy candidates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or the Insights section of our website