Before you choose an umbrella company to join for your contracting business, chances are you will seek out useful pointers and recommendations before signing on the dotted line. So, how do you find umbrella company reviews in the first place?
Pretty much all umbrella-related information is online these days, but unfortunately, the reliability of much online content is questionable.
Be cautious when reading online umbrella reviews
- Positive umbrella company reviews are easy to find, but site owners are often forced to remove or edit ‘negative’ comments posted about umbrella company services by contractors (the same applies for all types of service – accountants, agencies, etc.)
- Many umbrella companies are now fairly web-savvy, employing web marketing companies to ‘spread the word’ – this includes posting reviews and information wherever they can, not all of it objective in nature. In fact, at Contract Eye, we’re asked every week to host ‘free’ articles by SEO companies looking to promote their umbrella clients.
- Most amusingly, perhaps, you will often find the top 5 slots or so on comparison sites to be populated with those particular site’s sponsors. In fact, within weeks of advertising, comparison engine sponsors will miraculously become rated No.1!
Contractor Umbrella Review Sites
You can find several ‘umbrella company review’ sites with a simple Google search.
We wouldn’t necessarily suggest that you interpret online umbrella company league tables too literally, as rankings appear to vary wildly between comparison sites, and even the most visited review sites (e.g. Trip Advisor) find it notoriously hard to filter out bogus reviews or votes.
However, the background information on competing umbrella suppliers can prove very useful in the overall process of choosing an umbrella scheme.
Here are some web resources you may find helpful…
- Contractor UK Umbrella Forum – long-established bulletin board for contractors. You can gain very good feedback about the leading umbrella providers on here. ‘Fake’ comments are unlikely to last long, given the ferocity of the community admins who clamp down firmly on advertisements masquerading as useful information.
- Trustpilot – as we’ve discussed above, there will always be scope for fake or manipulated ‘good’ reviews to be included, however as a general measure to compare the relative scores of different payroll companies, this site could be a useful barometer to work out how umbrella companies are viewed. The link above goes to ‘accounting services’, which includes many major payroll firms too.
- Feefo – with the same general caution we’ve advised for review sites in general, Feefo may also give some indicators as to the overall perception of umbrella firms.
Umbrella Comparison sites – a big problem
A far more troubling problem arises from the massive growth in the number of umbrella comparison sites. The sort where you type in your personal details, and the site promises to send you a ‘quote’.
Some of the comparison sites may be legitimate, but many are not. They are fronts for illegitimate umbrella schemes – typically based offshore, and offering staggering net take-home pay rates.
Whatever you do, only sign up with a UK-based PAYE umbrella company. Make sure they are accredited with either the FCSA and/or Professional Passport, such as the established brands who feature on this site.
The way forward – choosing the best umbrella
As we’ve mentioned in our popular tips on choosing the best umbrella company, the best umbrella company reviews you can get are from other IT contractors.
Unlike recruitment agencies who may receive kickbacks for recommending umbrella companies to new contractors, current contractors will typically provide no-nonsense advice on selecting an umbrella scheme.
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