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For many people who work in banking or financial services, the opportunity to work for themselves is one which appeals for a number of reasons. If you are considering a move away from permanent work, but want to know more about how to start working for yourself, then this guide has plenty of information to help you make the decisions that will suit you best. There are a number of advantages to working for yourself as well as a few potential disadvantages, and it is best to understand as much as you can to ensure that you put yourself in the best position possible before taking the plunge.

Getting started as a contractor in the banking and financial services sector

One of the first things you will need to think about if you are considering leaving permanent work to become an independent professional is how you will organise your business. For most people who work for themselves, setting up their own limited company is the most cost-effective way to operate, but the other option is to work under an umbrella company. Having your own limited company can mean a little additional admin, but it does give you access to some tax savings that are designed to benefit those who bear the risk of working for themselves. You may find our guide to moving from permanent to contracting useful.

Working through an umbrella company can be easier in terms of the work you need to put in, as you will pay tax and National Insurance through the PAYE system so there will be minimal administration required from you. However, your take home pay could be significantly less as you will not be entitled to some of the savings that are on offer to limited companies and you will need to pay for their services as well. For more details about the differences between working through your own limited company or using an umbrella company our guides provide plenty of information.

How to find work as a banking or financial services contractor

If you are currently working in a permanent role in banking or finance, then you may already have an idea of some of the places that recruit staff in those industries. There are dedicated recruitment agencies which specialise in matching contractors skills to those of their clients and will help you to find a role which will suit you; these include CityJobs and Hudson and many general recruiters such as Hays and Reed also feature finance jobs. Ensuring that your CV is up to date will not only be essential when it comes to demonstrating your experience to recruiters, but will also help you to identify the areas that you want to focus on when it comes to seeking contracting opportunities.

Some banks and other financial institutions conduct their own recruitment and have dedicated sections on their websites where you can see all the jobs available and apply for them. Some even have specially designed portals to allow you to upload your CV so that they can retain your details and get in touch with you

You can also use online resources such as LinkedIn to create a network of finance professionals which could help you to maintain relationships with colleagues, as many people find that is an ideal way to retain potentially lucrative contacts. When firms are trying to recruit someone in a hurry, they will often go with personal recommendations from trusted employees, so ensuring that people know you are looking for work and being easily contactable can be hugely beneficial.

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Rates of pay for financial services and banking contractors

One of the most attractive things about becoming a contractor in the finance or banking sectors can be the rates that independent professionals command. The variety of roles available includes a wide range of different industries, including everything from not-for-profit to high level banking jobs. For some idea of the daily rates available for specific positions, it is always worth doing some job searches on recruitment sites to get an idea of the rates and responsibilities on offer.

If you want to know how much you could be earning in a contracting role in finance, then here are some examples:

  • A director of finance and corporate services can earn as much as £85,000 per year
  • A financial system analyst can expect in the region of £350 per day
  • As Head of financial management you could expect rates of up to £680 per day
  • A contract as a financial controller can pay around £90,000 per year

If you want to get an idea of how much you could be earning, then using a take home pay calculator could help you to identify your likely income for a number of different pay rates.

The benefits of financial services contracting through a limited company

If you want to make the most of the tax planning opportunities available to limited company contractors, then you will also be able to benefit from some of the other advantages that come with starting your own business. These can include:

  • One of the most appealing aspects of working for yourself can be the control you have over your career path, including the flexibility to work when, where and for whom you choose. You can take extended holidays if you choose to, allowing you to work around other commitments, or just ensure that you have a work-life balance that you are happy with.
  • Working for yourself also means that you bill your clients directly, so you have more control over your finances than you would if you were submitting your time sheets to an agency and then waiting for them to pass on payment.
  • As a contractor, you can also take advantage of tax planning opportunities to ensure that you make the most of your income. If you work through a limited company, then you will typically be able to take home between 75 and 80 per cent of your contract value, as opposed to the 60-65 per cent that is typically the take home for contractors working through an umbrella company.
  • As a contractor through your own limited company, you will be able to offset a range of business expenses against your income for tax purposes, many of which are not available to those who work on a PAYE basis. Our guide to expenses can help you to identify costs which you are able to claim as a financial services contractor.
  • The scope for choosing your own career path is another benefit of being an independent professional, whether you want to base your work around your family life or would prefer to take any opportunity to travel, you can do so as an independent financial services contractor.

For more information please visit our advantages and disadvantages of operating through a limited company page.

Starting out in contracting

Running your company successfully

There are many challenges to running a successful company, especially when you are just starting out, so having some expert support from a specialist accountant can be invaluable. As well as helping you to actually set up your company, an accountant who understands contracting can advise you on the best way to organise your finances, plan for the future and ensure that you are making the most of your income. This can make a huge difference when it comes to the success of your business as you will be able to plan effectively for a variety of possible eventualities, monitor your cash flow and ensure that you are always in the best possible position to deal with the unexpected.

How can Nixon Williams help?

Because we have close to 20 years of experience when it comes to helping independent professionals to achieve their goals, we are uniquely placed to offer you the benefit of our experience when it comes to advising you on a range of matters. We work with a number of contractors in a variety of different sectors, so we can provide information, which will be relevant to you, as well as ensuring that you have the very best in financial advice. Whether you want to diversify your business, understand the options for expansion or make plans for your retirement, our accountants will be able to offer you the benefit of their experience.

For more information on the services that Nixon Williams offers to contractors working in the banking and financial services sector, give us a call today on 01253 362062 or email jacqui.fairbrother@nixonwilliams.com.