Cool Company Freelance UK is the fastest-growing umbrella company working to simplify and streamline administration for contractors. Providing freedom for contractors without the bureaucracy. While allowing businesses to benefit from access to niche talent without the need to take on new hires, or handle the admin associated with contract recruitment.
Kris Simpson is the Head of UK B2C for Cool Company and is responsible for operations and compliance in the UK. With over 10 years’ experience in Umbrella Payroll and the Recruitment sector, Kris is Cool Company’s go-to person when it comes to changes in the UK and providing solutions that our customers need.
What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?
Fintech has always led the way in improving processes across all sectors. However new technology often meets with some “we have always done it this way” resistance. The umbrella market is no different. While recruitment agencies always welcome a smoother more streamlined umbrella service, umbrella companies have a significant amount of onboarding and operational legislation to navigate. And many companies do not believe that these challenges can be managed by technology.
Due to this, Fintech has entered the industry later than other sectors and business types. That’s why we’re now seeing a new push to be the first to deliver a complete, compliant technology-led umbrella solution.
How has this changed over the past few years?
The implementation of changes to IR35 legislation, coupled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has brought about a busy and disrupted period for contractors and those businesses who use the flexible workforce every day. The new challenges presented by recent events have caused businesses to seek technology in a different way, from the rise of video conferencing, remote working, through to automating time-consuming tasks. This surge to improve efficiencies has allowed umbrella companies to focus on the important aspects of their service, including the customer experience.
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?:
Cool Company is a Swedish business, and the UK and Swedish cultures are very different. The UK can be very traditional in some respects, but Sweden embraces change in a different way. As an economy driven by technology, the attitude to making work more efficient and delivering a technological solution for customers was the biggest driver of change.
Cool Company has successfully married the age-old manual processes of operating a UK Umbrella service with purpose-built platforms and automated processes, a change which I feel is extremely refreshing.
What fintech ideas have been implemented?:
One of the primary issues that deter customers from adopting new services is an excess of red tape. FCA regulated, Cool Company has to tick certain boxes to guarantee compliance. We’ve deployed FinTech solutions to help achieve that without breaking the customer experience.
By re-engineering the sign-up process and creating an intuitive UI that acts as a guide through the sign-up, we take our customers on a journey that navigates essential documentation quickly, without repetition.
What benefits have these brought?:
For our clients, this means that they can benefit from a faster, far more joined-up onboarding experience, gaining access to our services rapidly and securely. Helping them to save time on administration, contracts, and chasing payments, and removing the worry of compliance. For contractors Fintech solutions have enabled them to manage multiple assignments with different clients whilst also maintaining a work-life balance.
All of this has meant that from October 2020 to October 2021, Cool Company has seen a huge boost. Across that 12-month period, the number of invoices has increased by 950%, while the number of employed contractors has increased by 877%. The disruption of the last year means people are seeking out ways to more easily manage their work responsibilities and ease their stress. This has been massive for Cool Company. Our gross revenue has increased by almost 250% and gross profit by 75%.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
We’re reading a lot about ‘The Great Resignation’ or ‘The Great Reshuffle’ at the moment, and I think that the next few years will see a lot of people leaving jobs that they’re perhaps not as fulfilled by and striking out on their own. Contracting gives you a great deal of flexibility in terms of striking the right work/life balance and that’s something that’s even more important to people. I think a lot more people will consider contracting as a career.
Beyond that, I think we’re still in generally very uncertain times with regards to legislation. According to research conducted by Cool Company in September, the UK’s contractors are concerned that there will be even more uncertainty and changes to IR35 regulations in the near future. Of the 500 contractors we surveyed, 74% believed that the current rules will be revised and only 10% believed that there would be no changes. After so much disruption in 2020 and 2021, another year of uncertainty will definitely be a challenge for contractors, but there are options out there in the fintech space to help.
Can these challenges be aided by fintech?
Solutions like Cool Company can take a lot of the hassle out of the disruption for businesses and contractors alike. Umbrella companies can handle the hard work for you in a simple and fuss-free way, which means contractors and contracting industries can get on with doing what they do best – and so can FinTech companies in easing the challenges for everyone.
Fintech is playing an increasingly important role across all sectors as businesses seek to address the challenges of evolving working practices. Throughout the pandemic, the potential benefits of home working – the flexibility, reduction of overheads, and the accessibility of niche talent – have been revealed, leading many companies to consider the use of broadening those benefits with the addition of a contract workforce going forward. And many current employees became used to the improved work-life balance engendered by home working to evaluate their future career paths.
With 4.3 million self-employed workers already in the UK, contributing £162bn to the economy in 2020, it’s vitally important that FinTech continues to provide the tools these people need to succeed. And we’re really excited to be part of that.