Meet The Kingsbridge Team – Lauren Costello, Client Services Advisor

As promised, here’s the next installment in our ‘meet the Kingsbridge team’ series.  Our next victim participant is Lauren Costello, champion show-jumper and future zoo keeper.  Thanks for taking part Lauren.

Name: Lauren Costellolauren

Role:Client Services Advisor

How long have you been working with KPSOL?

Since November 2011

What does your job role include?

I speak with at least 50 people a day on the phone as well as responding to email enquiries.  Most of the conversations I have are with freelancers and contractors who are interested in the KPSol insurance package and either want to put a policy in place or have questions about the cover levels and whether it’s the right policy for them.

I also work with some of our business partners.   Often accountancy firms are keen to ensure their contractor and freelancer clients have the necessary insurance in place and many recruitment agencies insist on it before they’ll add them as candidates.  KPSol works closely with them to help them provide an end to end service.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

A famous show jumper, a vet or a zoo owner (I’d actually still like to own a zoo)

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Making a difference for a client is important to me and when I can do that I get a real buzz.  I also count myself as lucky to work with some brilliant people so just being in the office is enjoyable, even if I’m having a tough day.  We have a lot of fun.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Last year I went to the Gastech exhibition at ExCel in London.  One of our specialisations is in providing cover for Oil and Gas professionals and this is a huge, global event for the industry.  It hadn’t been held in the UK for 40 years (it’s in South Korea next year!) so I was really lucky to be able to attend and meet so many people in the industry.

What is your favourite thing about the company and what makes them different to work for?

The company has grown quickly over the last few years and it’s given opportunities to and invested in a young team (myself included) and it continues to do that.  Although traditionally the Client Services team would probably be referred to as a call centre, we’re encouraged not to be robotic, to build a real rapport with our clients.  We’re involved in planning and agreeing processes and we have regular communication from senior management around strategy and developments in the business.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

Horse riding and watching the rugby.  I’m also a cinema addict!

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

When I was younger I won the regional Jump Cross event on my horse, it’s a mixture between show jumping and cross country.  I was also on a TV show with Eddie Izzard once, I can’t remember it though!

Any advice you could give to someone looking to get a job in a similar environment?

You need to be very proactive.  Although most of the enquiries the Client Services team deals with are inbound, we still have to actively build relationships with our clients and make sure we’re answering their questions quickly and accurately.  You need to have a passion for customer services and also a willingness to learn and develop a good understanding of your clients’ needs and the insurance industry in general.  It’s hard work, but really satisfying.

What do you think makes Kingsbridge stand out from other insurance providers?

We’re often able to cover people who haven’t been able to get insurance elsewhere, or who thought they would have to pay thousands to get cover.  The set package of insurance is designed so our clients have peace of mind that they have the right cover, without the time and confusion they can experience from sourcing separate policies from multiple providers.

Any advice you have for freelancers or contractors looking for insurance?  

It’s vital that you’re adequately protected and equally, that you’re protecting anyone who might be affected by the work you do.  Don’t assume that you are automatically covered by your agency, your accountant or your professional body.  This is not always the case and we have so many contractors getting in touch, panicking as they won’t get paid until they can provide proof of insurance.

 Where do you hope to be in a few years’ time?

The plan is to get more involved with the work that the team that manage our partnerships and affiliations do.  I’m training with them at the moment, working towards a role as an account manager. 

We’ll be featuring more Client Services profiles over the coming months.  If you need to talk to a member of the team for a business insurance quote you can call on             01242 808740 or send an email to enquiries@kpsol.co.uk.

 

Time Management Tools For Freelancers And Contractors

Time management tools are very useful for contractors and freelancers. Not just for your client so they can see where the hours have been put in, but also for yourself. Using a tool like this allows you to track your work if you charge by an hourly rate, but also should help you keep your productivity up. The feeling that something is watching over your work makes for time well spent.  Many of these tools are also available across mobile and tablet devices, so useful if you’re working out of office.

So with that in mind we thought we’d give you the low down on some of the best time tracking tools out there.

Toggltoggl

Toggl is a great and esay to use tool, which you simply stop and start when you begin and end work. It can massively aid in productivity and it’s fun to use. The basic version is free, to gain access to more tools and features there is a fee of only $5 per month.

Yanamo Yanomo

Yanamo is particularly useful if you’re working in a team. It syncs with your Google calendar, tracks your time and you can share updates with team members. It does come at a price, but you can try the free trial for 47 days!

TSheets TSheets

TSheets is paid software but it’s probably money well spent if you want to track manage and report your time. Especially useful if you have clients that are strict about where your hours have gone. It’s easy to use and has a clean interface. There’s a 14 day trial if you want to test it out.

Get Harvestharvest

Harvest is a time tracking, reporting and invoicing app and desktop tool. It is available at 3 different price plans, but the basic plan is all you’ll need as a solo freelancer. With a simple intuitive interface, this is a handy tool for your daily timekeeping.

 SlimTimer SlimTimer

SlimTimer is a very simple to use time tracking tool which can also run reports which you can export. To track time you simply name a task, click on it and click again to stop. You can also sign up for free!

So those are 5 of the best time tracking tools we’ve found, do you have any other recommendations? Let us know below.

May Contractor News Round Up

Your monthly round-up of May’s top contractor news.

There are so many information sites for Freelancers and Contractors (see our Top 10 sites for freelance and contractor news post) and sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to stay up to date with the latest news.  So, we thought you might appreciate a monthly roundup from some of our favourite sites.

Youth entrepreneurship is soaring:

New figures have shown, that despite what people may think or say about the youth of Britain, that many are trying to become productive members of society by going down the entrepreneurial route. Many are taking the option to become self-employed instead of waiting for the right job to be available for them.

The stats were found in a YouGov study, with 30% of those questioned saying that they would be self-employed in the future, whilst a quarter said they’d be their own boss within five years. If these young people followed through on their plans, then it would see an increase in 5% on top of those young workers who are currently self-employed.

Since 2008 the amount of young self-employed has risen by 71,000. This is obviously due to the lack of employment options for graduates. So it does make sense for them to try working for themselves which can only be good news for the economy

Umbrella companies are suffering from low usage from freelancers

According to new stats, only 15% of freelance workers are using payroll umbrella companies. There are thought to be around 1.6 million professional freelancers in the UK and so this new statistic means there are over 1.35 million who are not using an umbrella company to help them manage their earnings.

Main issues people had when surveyed were the costs associated when using an umbrella company and misunderstandings over the role and benefits from these types of companies.

Phil McDonald the Managing Director of Paraplus, who conducted the survey said, “These findings should be a wake-up call for the umbrella industry. It makes for tough reading that 26.5% of freelancers don’t understand exactly what an umbrella company does and 14.5% don’t even know that one could help them.”

Will the self-employed be re-categorised as employees?

The taxman now says that there are two situations in which individual LLP members will next year be treated as if they were employees and therefore liable to pay income tax.

There are two situations in which, from April 2014, LLP members will be treated as if they were employees of the LLP, who will then have to operate PAYE on payments to the member.

These are the two situations:

  • On the assumption that the LLP is carried on as a partnership by two or more members of the LLP, the individual would be regarded as employed by the partnership by reference to the normal tests of employment.  These deal with matters such as control, the requirement for personal service, financial risk, the ability to profit from sound management, and so on. In some cases it will be plain that the terms on which the “salaried member” is engaged are indistinguishable from employment: in others (especially in ‘eat what you kill’ partnerships) it may be very easy to show that relationship is not one of employment.
  • Alternatively, HMRC proposes to treat a salaried member as an employee if he or she is not an employee under the first test but is nonetheless someone who:

– Has no significant economic risk (loss of capital or repayment of drawings) in the event that the LLP makes a loss or is wound up;

– Is not entitled to a significant share of the profits beyond the “fixed share”; and

– Is not entitled to any significant share of surplus assets arising on any winding-up of the LLP

That’s our May round-up of Freelancing news. If you have any comments or questions, leave a post below.  We’d also love to hear from you if you have any other sites to reccommend or regular features you’d be interested in reading.

The World’s Most Inspiring Offices

The environment you work in can influence your productivity and mood just as much as who you’re with or what you are working on. Freelancers and Contractors often have to make do with a client’s hot desk or a home office, but we can all dream.  Here are some of the world’s most inspiring offices:


Selgas Cano – Madrid, SpainSelgas Cano

This Architects’  office is placed half underground with an outward view of the forest scenery. This would be perfect with the recent sunny weather we’ve been having!

 White Mountain – Stockholm, SwedenWhite Mountain

This Bond villain-esque office belongs to Swedish internet provider, White Mountain.  The site is a disused anti-atomic shelter 100ft below the city – converted into a cool, modern office which is sure to impress clients.

Mind Candy – London, UKmind candy

This office is on Silicon Roundabout in Shorditch – The online entertainment company have created an office which helps spur imagination and creativity with outdoors themed rooms, including a tree house meeting room and a slide

 Red Bull Red Bull

The Red Bull offices were designed to create an open, dynamic workplace. The design is cool and modern, with quirky features like the slide and a Ping Pong meeting room table.

Google – London, England google

 

 

Google are renowned for their creative workspaces. The London office has various themed rooms including  Granny’s Flat and the Lala library (pictured above).  ‘Hedge your bets’, a roof garden, gives employees a space to work or relax outside of the office environment.

 Richard Branson – EverywhereRichard Branson

Branson has as always worked outside of a traditional office, the image above shows him and his team discussing business ideas on his private island.  Okay, so we’re not all lucky enough to own our own island paradise to work on – but we like the idea of remote working in different locations to find inspiration!

Funny Insurance Claims You Couldn’t Make Up

cowHaving the right insurance is no joke but it’s not all doom and gloom in the world of insurance either.  Every now and again we hear of some rather amusing situations – don’t be embarrassed to ring us, we’ve heard it all! Here are some funny insurance claims you couldn’t make up!

1. A jeweller sent in an insurance claim after repairing a customer’s £200 watch he then accidently returned a £10,000 Rolex – only noticing as he left the shop that he had forgotten to note down the customers contact details. We don’t know what the result was, perhaps the customer was kind enough to return it?

2. A holidaymaker in Sri Lanka suffered an accident as a result of a coconut falling on her head whilst she read in the shade below. She claimed for her hospital expenses.

3.  A driver rang up with this claim – “I was driving along a road and saw there was a farming fete in fields ahead, all of a sudden I saw a man dressed as a potato, this quite surprised me and I lost control of my vehicle and landed in a ditch” (The man dressed as a potato was at fault of course!)

4. One burglar in the US robbed a house, accidentally locking himself in the garage. He was stuck there for more than a week as the homeowners were away on holiday. He survived by eating dog food stored there. When the man finally got away he made an insurance claim for ‘undue mental anguish’. He was compensated almost half a million dollars!

5. A Devon farmer claimed that his iPhone had been lost in the back end of one of his cows – he had been using it as a torch whilst calving in the middle of the night. Unsurprisingly, the mobile appeared a while later but wasn’t working.

Do have any insurance stories to share?  Why not post them in the comments box?

How Do Freelancers And Contractors Keep In Touch?

Kingsbridge MD, Steve Wynne, tests his reactions at Gastech

It’s been a busy few weeks for KPSol, both in and out of the office.

We’ve been raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness, attending exhibitions and strategy planning for fast approaching 2013.

All of this activity means we’ve been connecting with colleagues, partners and clients more than ever and I’ve been thinking about our Freelancer and Contractor clients who don’t always have the luxury of someone sitting across a desk from them.

So how do Freelancers and Contractors connect with one another?

One sector that appears to be actively encouraging networking amongst its peers is that of the Oil and Gas sector.  What would outwardly appear to be an insular career path is just not so when it comes to Oil and Gas Freelancers and Contractors.  KPSol are regularly invited to attend conferences, events and trade shows within this industry and we were delighted when, on the 8th October, Gastech returned to London after 40 years.

Our stand proved to be a popular installation with the inclusion of a reaction testing machine, used by Formula One teams for driver training.  It wasn’t easy to resist the challenge, as you’ll see from the image of our very own Managing Director, Steve Wynne.

Professor Brian Cox OBE, Research Fellow, Author, Broadcaster, CERN Project & BBC Television had this to say about the conference and exhibition;

“To be able to talk to the people at the cutting edge, you know, you’ve got your people here who are important, influential and employers of people that I and my colleagues in the university sector educate, so for me, that’s a real value.”

However, not all industries hold regular events and what of Freelancers and Contractors working offshore, overseas or those who simply can’t afford to take the time away from their businesses.

Social media is one option but it’s also a hotly debated communication method amongst the business community and this includes Freelancers and Contractors.  One school of thought and the generic advice has been to only connect with those companies that could offer you a contract immediately.  The thinking is that if you are using social media as a marketing tool, then you should only target potential clients and that other connections won’t lead to paid work.

But who knows where your Freelance and Contractor connections could lead?  Today’s entrepreneur may well be the next Steve Jobs or your Freelancer contacts may make the move back into a traditional environment and a position that could provide you with future contracts.

Freelancers have many and varied skills which often complement each other.  Knowing someone you can team up with could make the difference between you winning a contract or not.  Knowing your industry and your peers and keeping a regular dialogue with them also means that you’re first in line when it comes to work referrals.

Of course, like any networking method, relationships take time to develop and if you view social media purely as a method of generating new business you’re likely to become disillusioned fairly rapidly.  But if you’re looking for a way to stay connected to your peers, industry news and for a method of getting a quick and candid opinion, it could well a medium worth exploring.

UK Business News Dominated By Contractor Debate

Debates around Freelancing and Contracting have been headlining in the UK business news over the past fortnight with tensions running high and independent research showing that many Freelancers and Contractors are fast losing confidence in the current government and their seeming lack of support for those working for themselves.

The proposed Controlling Person’s Legislation I mentioned in the 25th September blog entry is causing unease amongst Media and Public Sector Contractors and Freelancers and this seems to have dominated the front pages of the broadsheets this month.

Matchtech, the number one engineering and recruitment company in the UK, have also released the results of a new Confidence Index and it seems that UK engineers are now losing confidence in the government and their policy on engineering.  More than half of those surveyed stated that they’re not confident that their businesses will continue to invest locally and two in five are seriously considering electively working abroad in the next five years.

It’s not easy to see how this debate will be resolved unless there is a dramatic shift in the government’s attitudes towards the Freelancing Community.  The consensus amongst Freelancers and Contractors is that without such a shift we risk seriously damaging this vital sector of UK commerce and industry.

KPSol 5 Year Anniversary!

We are pleased to announce that June 2012 marks an exciting anniversary for KPSol- our 5th birthday!

 

This is an exciting milestone for us and reminds us of our success to date, including recently being awarded the prestigious ‘Chartered Insurance Broker’ status by the Chartered Insurance Institute.  We are proud that we have continued to grow over the last 5 years despite the challenging economic climate and competition from large insurers and comparison sites.  We now employ 12 employees and have helped over 6000 freelance professionals and their clients to stay safe.

 

Our success wouldn’t have been possible without our customers, so to celebrate we are offering an array of prizes over the next 5 months, both to loyal customers and to potential customers who obtain a quote.  These include 2 hospitality tickets to a major UK golfing event, iPads, Kindles, free policies, Love2Shop vouchers and digital cameras.  Anyone is free to enter, simply click here to get a quote for our great value package and you’ll automatically be entered into the monthly prize draws.

 

We will also be holding a well deserved celebration event for our staff to mark this special occasion and thank them for their hard work.  Keep an eye out for pictures on our blog!

 

 

 

Why You Should Hold Freelancer Insurance For Your Own Benefit, Not Just The Clients!

Depending on your industry and profession, there may be a legal obligation to hold insurance, but many freelancers are not required by law to have any insurance at all and this can instantly seem like an easy place to save money when trying to ensure maximum returns from your freelancing activities.  However, freelancer insurance isn’t all just about protecting your client, it also be about protecting yourself!

Insurance is often required to satisfy certain obligations in a contract between you and your client, but rather than seeing this as an unwanted cost, you should consider the benefits that it brings you for yourself.

Consider the risks and exposures that you place yourself under every time you complete work for a client.  For example, do you provide professional advice to people that they may act upon and make costly decisions from it?  Do you visit your clients at their premises where it is possible you could cause an accident or damage?  Is there a chance that you work could somehow damage your clients reputation, business or even cause some kind of physical harm if something went wrong?

It is well worth asking yourself all these questions as if any of these issues were to arise, it is not simply your client’s problem, it will in fact become your problem extremely quickly!

By holding freelancer insurance, you can protect yourself against potential problems that could cost you serious money, or even your entire livelihood.   If a client trips or falls as a result of your activities and you do not have the relevant insurance, you could be liable to cover any compensation awarded.  This could be a few hundred pounds in the case of a small injury, or it could arise to tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds if the accident was to be serious.

Another common and highly recommended protection would be professional indemnity, especially if you are in the business of consulting or giving advice.  While from the outset it may seem that the worst that could happen from giving bad advice would be to lose a client, the reality is actually a lot worse.  Without adequate insurance, you could personally be held responsible for loss of revenue, damage to reputation and branding and even loss of potential future profits.  Once again, when you consider the small cost of this insurance compared with the outrageously high potential figures involved in NOT having it, it quickly makes sense that taking out this insurance is actually more about protecting yourself, rather than the client.

Don’t fail to remember as well that by having insurance in the first place, regardless of any issues arising, can benefit you as a freelancer straight away.  It shows clients that you are a true professional and gives potential new customers the confidence to try your services without being left high and dry in the event of a problem. In the long run this can help you improve your reputation and standing in the industry and win new business that you may have previously lost out on.

Insurance Compare, Consumer Beware!

Since KPSol started trading there have been a few stumbling blocks which have frustrated us. However none more so than our recent experiences with insurance comparison sites. These are household name aggregators with considerable exposure and are firms you should be able to trust.

They advertise themselves as being able to find you the best deal with the minimum amount of fuss, entering your details once and at the click of a button they compare all the policies from numerous insurers for you – hopefully saving you money and time in this process.

Well, this is what they state; but in reality are these one-click comparison sites really offering the best deals?

Some sites brag that they compare prices from “leading UK Business Insurance providers”, meaning that you place your trust in them to compare quotes from all the necessary providers and find you the best deal…this simply is not the case! We are finding that most comparison sites are making exclusive arrangements with brokers who only compare policies from companies that they have commercial (commission) deals with. This  is something which they can control to get the best deal for themselves and NOT the consumer. A little unknown fact is that over £650 MILLION is taken in commission by price comparison sites every year! The levels of commission they insist on can in fact bar entry to cheaper policies from broker facilities meaning that you simply don’t get the best policy for you.

Shockingly, this is not just restricted to comparison sites; whilst attempting to make arrangements to promote our policy to relevant groups we have recently been rejected by a contractor advisory website as they already have an agreement with an existing insurance provider. Now this is a website trusted to provide accurate and intelligent advice to their members but we found they let commission based commercial agreements rule their judgement denying their members access to a policy which provided better cover and a much lower price.

So next time that you look for business insurance, maybe you should think twice about who you trust to give you the best deal…