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Improving Financial Wellness for Freelancers

Crème de la crème has always been obsessed with the wellbeing of its community of freelancers. In fact, our main value proposition is to help our members to find relevant and meaningful projects to work on.

However, we’ve always felt that this wasn’t enough.

That’s why we launched our weekly Freelance Friday events, giving our members free office space for the day and regularly hosting talks and meetups in our office.

One of the most important issues that we hear about from our members is around their financial wellness and financial stability.

  • How can I better forecast my revenues?
  • How can I be better insured?
  • What should I do if I get sick while on a contract?

I’ve stopped counting how many times we heard these questions which were not only legitimate but also tough to answer.

Bearing all of this in mind, we decided to host a two-hour roundtable on April 5th to discuss what should be done to improve the financial wellness of freelancers.

In the first part, we tried to identify the common issues our members had before trying to think of potential paths to address this together as a group.

This session was moderated by David Odier, Head of International Growth at crème de la crème and Anthony Beilin, former Head of Innovation at Aviva and CEO of Collective, the safety net for freelancers.

We hope you’ll appreciate our key takeaways.

The three pillars to achieve financial stability… which are rarely met

Financial Stability

Not surprise here, the main issue our members are facing is finding relevant opportunities at a fair rate and being paid on time remained the number one issue all of them were facing.

Getting to that stable level of revenues freelancers used to have as full-time employees is the number one objective for freelancers. Our good friends from IPSE came to the same conclusion when conducting their research.

Freelancers tend to feel safer when they have a recurring client they work with a couple of days per week or per month for an extended period of time.

As a result, some landlords are not willing to rent their place to self-employed because of the lack of stability in revenues freelancers may have. The attendees did admit that recently, this has become easier than it was 5 or 10 years ago.

As fast as the society may be evolving, it’s tough to believe that self-employed with a proven experience and track record have troubles to rent a place… which leads us to the next pillar.

Society Inclusion

We opened this topic with a simple question: “what kind of products or services tailored for freelancers advertisers are showing you?”

The answer came as a shock – almost – no one was trying to sell a tailored financial product for freelancers.

All of our attendees used to be full-time employees at some point and their employee status came with a wide range of advantages:

  • Automatic contribution to a pension fund
  • Discounts & rewards
  • Cycle to work schemes
  • Etc…

It turns out that no one was trying to offer these advantages to self-employed… which means they are at a disadvantage here compared to 80% of the remaining workforce.

Most freelancers like to work from home and although they would like to work from an office from time to time, it’s tough to find an affordable office space in London. To that extent, we can only recommend TechHub and their flex membership.

Long term security

Bearing in mind what we talked about just before, we realised that most self-employed are either very short-termist (e.g I want to pay my rent at the end of the month) or long-termist (e.g I want to be able to pay university for my children).

However, none of the people who attendees were 100% sure on how to get to that long-term goal. Meaning it is difficult for freelancers to save enough money today which will make a difference in ten or twenty years from now.

There are some alternative solutions though, most freelancers set up a separate account to make sure they have available funds should something happen but our attendees did not really have a retirement fund or anything similar.

What really came as a surprise during this session is that there doesn’t seem to be any company which addressing freelancers specifically on those issues. In that sense, it is fair to say that we are still stuck to where we were ten or fifteen years ago.

Needless to say that the price for a life insurance product as a freelancer is say more expensive than it is for full-time employees.

Who will do something about it?

Let’s hold back a second and think about the positive things which have happened in the freelance movement this last decade.

In fact, more and more companies are embracing remote working. Working from home is no longer a dream and it has become natural for most freelancers.

Our community is helping companies accelerate their digital projects and those skills are in high demand. For freelancers who started out ten years ago, it is a fair statement to say it has become easier to find work today than it was before.

It’s still a long way to go but many companies are helping freelancers to better manage their finances today. For instance, our partner TransferWise is a key ally for freelancers working with international clients who trade in different currencies.

One of the questions we’d like to ask is how can freelancers take advantage of dedicated account like an ISA which they could tap into at any time?

In fact, financial liquidity remains the number one priority for most freelancers.

It’s also still surprising that in 2019 freelancers and contractors cannot benefit from sick pay or maternity leave. Freelancers have chosen this life because of the flexibility it provides but still do not have access to most advantages full-time employment provides.

If you’re sick while working on a contract, does that mean one should simply get over it?

Perhaps the appearance of new players like Collective on this untapped market will shape the next stage of freelancing.

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