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Old 19.11.2009, 14:00
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Freelance Consultants - How NOT to get ripped off by intermediaries

Hello community,

Having posted before on the subject and promised to get back and report on my endeavors, here I am.
This thread is a follow-up of my previous one on the topic and several posts in the related threads .

First off, some background information: Anyone working in CH should factor in the fact that the mandatory AVS, insurance, etc charges will amount to ~25% of his/her gross contract per month. For example, if your consulting contract is 10,000 CHF / month, you can expect to see no more than CHF 7,500 flowing in your account gross of income tax. As there are many roads ahead, I will stop the intro math here [you may be tax exempt or taxable at source, or... ]

A lot of my fellow consultants see half or less than half of the contract amount going in, so you do the math how much your "handlers" make for their services or lack thereof.

After several months of searching and exchanging correspondence with numerous accounting/payroll/umbrella companies that can handle a freelancer's services and invoice a client on his/her behalf, I short-listed a few. Eventually, ended up with the one I hereby highly recommend after a couple of months' worth of personal experience.

ACCURITY is a company often mentioned in these forums, mostly for their tax calculator. There is so much more to these guys, I don't know where to start...

Short and sweet - they have two service packs for freelancers to pick from, costing you either 6 or 7 % of your gross contract. Add to this the mandatory 25% and you are looking at 31-32% of reduction on your contract amount with all charges paid. Their commission is reasonable, given you do not have to worry about any legal/tax/pension/regulation/reporting issues or setting up and handling your own company (and accounting and legal stuff). Their service is completely transparent, from start to finish: you can get a breakdown of each penny going backwards from the contracted amount to what flows into your bank account, to what goes in a 3rd pillar account for tax optimization, to what they get. You get access to your own account where you see all, you have a dedicated contact person who is following all queries instead of someone anonymous reading off a CRM log each time.

A word on the brilliant staff is due. Handling my affairs were Billie Waelte (Ms.) and Nicola Clothier (Ms.) - always kind and supportive, fast in their emails and pushing the paperwork forward. If and when you call there, rest assured these two ladies are top notch!

As this is already longer than initially intended, let me get to the naming and shaming of my former "handlers" - Stay clear of Vacancy CH which, for the hefty 30% margin they make on your contract, deduct the mandatory 25% and provide NOTHING but a wire transfer of the remaining 45% of your contract to your bank account. No support, no consulting, no tax optimization, no contact person, nothing, absolutely nothing. And that big fat nothing costs you almost a quarter of your gross contract pay *more* compared to the alternative of Accurity. Do not get me wrong - there is no such thing as free lunch and services have to be paid for. The question is why pay a third for nothing when 6-7% will get you great service and peace of mind?

I hope the above will help people who are in their search for a decent umbrella / payroll company to handle their affairs. Good luck guys and happy consulting!
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