Why You Should Probably Do Less Work
There's a definite trend towards freelancing in the current work climate. Many skilled workers, from graphic designers to bakers, are taking advantage of social media marketing and online platforms like Fiverr and Upwork to sell themselves as self-employed specialists in preference to working for a single company.
The stats back this up too. The number of self-employed workers has increased from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). As of April 2020, the number is above 5 million, representing 15.3% of the UK working population.
It'll be interesting to see what the numbers are like in the ONS's next release, as I'm sure the challenges of this year have encouraged a change in employment habits too. Many who've been on long-term furlough have seized the opportunity to make the transition towards setting up a new business or going freelance.
Why consider recruiting freelance workers?
From the perspective of a firm in the financial services industry, the availability of freelance workers is, theoretically, a good thing:
- You can contract in people to do a specific task when you need it doing.
- You don't have to pay them during quiet periods when the need isn't there.
- You get people who do one thing and do it well (and if they don't you simply don't hire them again).
- You can allocate your valuable time more effectively, as you'll have less landing on your own plate.
If you're a financial planner and you have a clear advice process then you can strategically outsource discrete duties to freelancers to create a lean, efficient practice.
So why aren't more people doing it?
This strategy is all well and good, until you start considering scalability. Like the retail assistant manager who started a cake baking business when on furlough, once demand gets to a certain level it becomes impossible to take any more work on. By its very nature, any "one man band" operation is not designed to scale, which, in turn, limits the scalability of your business.
This is where service companies have an advantage over individuals. You get all the same benefits but aren't reliant upon one person. If one staff member goes on holiday then another can take over. Companies are also inherently more resilient than individuals, which means it's much less risky to outsource work to them rather than pinning all your hopes on one freelancer to deliver.
Utilising a services company gives you a more secure foundation than hiring a freelance worker and removes the potential barrier to scale, meaning you can confidently use outsourcing to build your efficient business practice without compromising growth potential.
At PowerPlanner, we believe financial planners should be doing what they do best: giving quality financial advice and getting paid for doing so. The more you can delegate, the more you can concentrate on delivering value to paying clients. After all, we already see this with services like discretionary fund management, IT infrastructure and payroll/accountancy, so why not extend it to things like answering the phone, report writing or social media management?
One reason for the hesitancy, I believe, is that these extensions are more customer-facing duties, so people sometimes view this as potentially putting their public reputation at risk. However, with a good outsourcing provider you won't lose control, and once trust is established and you begin to have confidence in what your supplier can deliver the benefits can really empower your business.