As featured on Business First Magazine October/November 2016
As featured on Business First Magazine October/November 2016
Certica® founder David Marriner speaks with Jonathan Jackson about what drives him and how he came to create a business that facilitates the relationship between businesses and contractors.
“If you asked me when I was a kid what I wanted to do with my life, I would have told you I wanted to run my own business.” So says David Marriner, the founder of Certica®, a company which provides Certified Contractor Administration services to ensure contractors and the businesses that engage their services are at all times Contractor Ready™.
We’ll get to what that means shortly, but first it’s important to understand Marriner’s approach to business and his enthusiasm for life.
Marriner is an enthusiastic soul. You can hear it in his voice when he speaks. Of the many entrepreneurs and business people I have interviewed over the years who have told me they were driven by passion, Marriner is one of the few that makes it believable.
He describes himself as a creator, a motivator, and an innovator and certainly in the brief time that we spoke, I felt motivated: motivated to write, or to ramp up my own contracting services. Certainly his enthusiasm was/is infectious.
It is no surprise Certica® has been such a hit.
“I have had lifelong passion for business and enterprise,” Marriner says. “It was in-built because even though I was an adopted child, that same drive for enterprise was in my biological father’s blood.”
As a high achiever he took roles with Eye-T technology and Morgan & Banks, working in IT where innovation is paramount to growth and success.
Morgan & Banks could have provided a long-term career for anybody with as much talent and drive as Marriner, yet as with all entrepreneurs the drive to run a personal business often outweighs any benefits provided by even the best of employers.
“I was so motivated to go into business on my own, set a vision and follow a path,” he says. “For me running a business is not about the money. I like to create new things that will fit a need in the market. I am motivated by creating products that have a first mover advantage and can launch without any competitors. Selling the business’ first product to its first customer motivates me.”
Through Certica®, Marriner felt he could fulfil this vision.
Certica® was founded on the back of Marriner’s desire and need to help other people in enterprise. In this case creating a long lasting, sympatico relationship between business and contractor.
“Nothing makes us happier than to help an individual start their own journey as an independent contractor, or to make it possible for an enterprise to engage a team of 1 or 1,000 contractors compliantly, without fear from the ATO, Fair Work or someone else crying “Sham Contracting,” Marriner says.
In explaining Certica® we’ll leave it to the company itself: it removes the obligations that seem to derail a lot of aspiring business people. Things like taxes, insurances, registrations, lodgements, super, employment and contracting laws, etc… With us taking care of these things, being in business becomes simple (even rewarding) and our customers can focus on what they do best – growing their own base of happy customers.
“There are two ways to look at it,” Marriner says. “An independent contractor or sole trader has a skill or trade and they go into business to ply that trade. On the other hand nobody goes into business to lodge his or her quarterly tax statement or make a superannuation contribution. So I was motivated to design a company that covers those things and others like invoicing, insurance, reporting. The aim was to take care of the financials from each payment as it was received. This way they always know how much money they have and how much they can spend.”
In its essence, Certica® is a business management tool for contractors and the self- employed. It also facilitates the relationship between contractors and the business that engages them (sometimes referred to as employers).
“I passionately believe in the right of business to engage contractors. I believe business and individuals can choose to enter into contracting relationships freely. We are here to ensure these relationships remain compliant.”
Marriner believes there is a misconception that businesses use contractors to avoid liability. However he says it is the opposite, that in fact from payroll tax to superannuation, many contractors are treated as employees. This is of course backed up by the Fair Work Commission, which underpins the fair treatment of contractors.
“You can’t offer a contractor a low rate of pay because it is simply not compliant to do so,” Marriner says.
Nor would any smart business want to do this, partly because those who deliver results are worth paying.
One very important element pertaining to Certica’s business is the certified contractor registration. This is the platform that helps to ensure relationships are built on trust and security for all and most importantly on compliance.
“We provide expertise in way of recommendations and suggestions to help clients set their desired level of contractor compliance and we structure their contracts accordingly. Our platform ensures this is maintained.”
“When we speak to customers, we are with them on their enterprise journey. Whether they operate as a sole trader right through to a global organisation, we want to help them grow. We offer them the certainty they need when they start building a contracted workforce by helping them manage their industrial relations, financial, accounting and tax liabilities.”
Certica® has seen a large number of customers come to them from industries that utilise contractors. The company then assesses compliance concerns, including their current risk profile and recommends a solution. This approach helps to avoid sham contracting: when an employer deliberately disguises an employment relationship as an independent contracting arrangement, instead of engaging the worker as an employee. This is usually done to avoid paying employee entitlements such as superannuation, workers’ compensation, leave and certain taxes.
Indeed, Certica® is all about integrity, which is one of its three pillars of success. Those pillars are:
Marriner refers to these pillars as the 3i’s which help deliver certainty surrounding contractor engagement.
“People want to know that what is being set up is correct in structure. How do you maintain compliance, how do you ensure every compliance box is ticked? That’s where we can help.”
Stemming from this is Marriner’s second arm of the business, iContract®, the developer and operator of the iContract® Contractor Solutions Suite.
This is a suite of world class contractor compliance and enterprise management tools. It also operates a transactional services and payment bureau that offers customers instant access to a wide range of payment services (such as EFT, BPay, Credit Card) without any upfront fees or approval processes.
Developed by Marriner, iContract® is a technology and transactional service provider to Certica®. It also provides, configures and operates white label contractor registration, compliance and payroll services to meet the needs of contractor labour hire organisations.
“This delivers huge efficiencies in terms of speed of operation, contractor onboarding, payroll and client invoicing.”
“The iContract® system ensures compliance 24 hours a day,” Marriner says.
He does iterate the point that Certica® is not a recruitment or labour hire company, but it can help businesses put together a recruitment team or scale by engaging a global workforce.
That is the third branch of the business and it is known as Certica Global which has operations in Hong Kong and Manila.
Certica Global helps businesses build a global team by housing them in one of the best offices in Manila. It provides legal separation and frees them from the headaches of administrative responsibilities.
It is the perfect adjunct to the rest of the Certica® business, which has been founded on the principle of building relationships.
“To me that is more important than anything else. We want to make it easy for people to transact with one another.”
Certica® has been in operation since 2013, but Marriner has been building the business since founding iContract® in 2001. He is the system architect and he has built the company through referrals and customer feedback.
“If you have looked at our map, we have experienced solid growth and that’s down to building an enterprise with a focus on innovation. We have largely grown off referrals and I see that as an asset.”
The company is poised later this year to launch a network of Certica® licensees and he will be looking for enterprising and passionate business owners to come on board.
“When our enterprise consultants also operate their own business, they understand accountability. That is a big difference to have. As we largely service other businesses, a Certica® enterprise consultant needs to have that empathy to understand what their problems are and be able to converse about business in a way that connects with business people.”
It seems there is no slowing Marriner down. He is as driven now as when he was a young start- up looking to kick off his own enterprise journey. The important thing, however, is that his passion hasn’t waned. It is still shining as brightly as it did years ago. He is fueled by innovation and outcome and as such has been able to create a niche in a field that was crying out for first-mover solutions.
Today, there are imitators. And while Marriner finds it flattering, he is unconcerned.
“I have always thought that if someone procures your IP, all they think they know is where your business is at now. They don’t know why you do things the way you do, or what your vision is. If they get to market, all they deliver is a poor version of what you were then, not where you are today and never where you are heading in the future.”
Suffice it to say, moving forward at pace is important and Marriner is a master of staying one step ahead.