Parasol has capitalised on the growth in short-term and freelance employment. For a weekly fee, it offers to take care of the financial affairs of high-earning IT, engineering or medical contractors. It issues invoices on the contractors’ behalf, collects payments, calculates tax and NI contributions, and then pays a net salary straight into their bank accounts. It also sells them pensions, mortgages and critical-illness cover. Founded by Mark O’Brien and Rob Crossland, Parasol has grown sales 169% a year, from an annualised £3.4m in 2001 to an annualised £65.1m in 2004. Sales are expected to double this year, though profit margins are slim.
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