A brilliant thought-provoking discussion on the uprising market and future scenarios of the Fintech Industry with the CEO of OnCentive and Corporate Leaders Magazine. Follow the interview to read through the useful information and know more.
Who is OnCentive? What does the name imply?
OnCentive reflects the many financial incentives our company identifies and recovers for businesses. From the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to State tax credits, Research and Development (R&D), Energy credits and hundreds more, our company keeps its focus on “ON” incentives.
Amongst many different verticals, why did you choose incentives and recovery programs in the Fintech industry?
While most people do not believe financial services are emotional, I find a lot of “heart” in many of our tax credits. While businesses are the recipients of the credits, there is a significant impact on employees and the people of the organizations.
Yes, it is rewarding to provide a company with a bottom-line boost, but it is even more rewarding to see a veteran get hired, or someone with a criminal record that is changing their life attain that job. Working closely with non-profits like Hire Heroes USA helps remind me that while we provide a financial service, we help reward companies that hire and change lives. To that point, many of these credits are also aimed at helping businesses that are facing adversity, like the aftermath of a hurricane, to overcome those challenges. I am proud we help these companies attain the funds they need to keep people employed and to recover their businesses.
Lastly, we support innovation and changing the world in big ways as well. Tax credits like the R&D Credit and Energy Credits are aimed to help companies that are changing the world through innovative means; to play even a small role in helping fund their success is inspiring to me.
How does Equity Ownership work? And what protocols and methods do you follow to streamline every operation?
I really appreciate this question because I am very vocal about the fact that I have always believed one of the biggest mistakes founders make is being greedy with their company. When people share in the success, they commit to the company differently.
When employees have equity ownership, it is as personal to them as it is to you. To reflect that concept, I have scaled people’s equity to match their level of contribution to the business. For senior folks that can be a percentage of ownership, but even for folks at our staff levels, they get a revenue share or a bonus program that ties directly to the company’s success. “Equity” should take many forms when empowering employees. In terms of methods and protocols, I keep a watchful eye over time on who is really driving the growth and continue to reward them as best I can with where the company is. It is not a complex methodology – it is simply conscious, grateful, and leadership.
Elucidate on the early stage of OnCentive as a startup to a big name in the industry?
Well, it is hard to think of us as a “big name” already since our start-up days are not far behind us. However, it is really an honor to see that my name and the trusted relationships I have built over the years have rapidly accelerated our acceptance and position in the market. I like to think that our sense of integrity and the seriousness we take responsibility for our role is what has driven our reputation and fueled our growth.
Right now, in the Covid-19 Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) era of tax credits, there are many “pop-up shops” trying to make a quick name and money for themselves. Our ability to tell customers we have a long-standing knowledge of many tax credits, including experts on our team with decades of experience dealing with the IRS, and that we have recovered billions without a single penny ever returned to the IRS gives us a lot of integrity and credibility. I really believe that our expertise and results has fueled our rapid growth.
What challenges and lessons has OnCentive learned so far in becoming a Fintech leader?
I am not sure how much space your publication has (laughing) but every day is a new challenge and a new lesson. That may sound exhausting but it is incredibly rewarding. When I think back to where we were just 6 months ago versus now, I would say the progress – the culmination of those challenges and lessons – is what got us here. I have learned over and over that being able to trust your people, especially at the top of the organization, is critical.
I have learned that sound judgment is not a teachable skill but it is absolutely essential in leadership and the key to a strong executive team. In terms of challenges, rapidly growing organizations have a difficult chemistry to calibrate. Bringing in new people constantly to support the growth, managing that rapid cultural change and the processes needed to support it can be challenging. Those challenges reinforce the lessons though – it all comes down to having great people at all levels you can trust to grow with the company.
What are the different verticals you cater to in the financial development domain?
Unlike many companies, we are not as vertically focused as we are business size/purpose focused. Our different tax credit recovery services map more directly to business size or business situation than industry specific. For example, many of our WOTC tax credits benefit companies that experience higher turnover and typically employ hourly wage workers.
Our R&D Credits and Energy Credits are aimed at companies that are focusing on innovation, regardless of industry. Our State Credits are also industry agnostic but reflect the unique business conditions of the region. The common element amongst our financial services domain is to help companies continue to grow and overcome challenges regardless of the industry they serve.
What does your Broker Dealer offering document say? How is it benefiting other stakeholders?
Following my logic on shared equity and the importance of removing greed, our Broker Dealer program is one of the most generous in the industry. As a matter of standard practice, we tend to offer larger commissions to Broker-Dealers than our competitors because we believe when we ask someone to make a true investment in selling us, they deserve a significant share.
We may make less of a percentage than some of our competitors, but we also have true partnerships, far longer relationships, and a truly profitable program for everyone involved. Our stakeholders receive both the financial benefit of increased returns through larger scaled sales teams, but also a sense of pride that we do right by our partners and are running a company that lives its values in terms of integrity.
Tell us about the achievements and certifications OnCentive owns?
I can name a series of awards but nothing in mind matches this achievement: We have processed over $2 billion in tax credits and have never had a dollar returned to the IRS. The fact that we service our customers so well is to me the greatest achievement a company can have.
Briefly describe the lead (person) of OnCentive who takes care of most of the work.
I am afraid of the consequences if I answer by selecting only one person. (Laughing). While this will likely sound overly diplomatic, I truly could not select just one person. Frankly, if I could, I would be a terrible CEO because a well-run business never rests on one person’s shoulders. I will say, I have a handful of truly key people I know I can depend on that really contribute to the organization in different ways. Their varying perspectives and skill sets help us to make wiser decisions. I typically seek the counsel of my few very trusted advisors for every major decision and trust my heads of divisions to do the work they believe is needed without too much interference.
How did you cope with the pandemic? In what way did the pandemic hit you?
The pandemic was a horrible time for millions of people, and from a human perspective, it was a tragedy. We were fortunate, as a company, that our business had a rare opportunity to grow through it. We were even more fortunate that we could channel our empathy into actually helping companies recover by finding out if they qualified for the ERTC (Employee Retention Tax Credit). Through our work, companies received monies that helped millions of people keep their jobs and companies keep their doors open. No one wants to feel like their business is profiting from anyone’s suffering, so it was wonderful to feel our work actually helped the victims of the pandemic, not made them a profit center.
What are growth plans for future avenues and milestones?
If there is one thing most people know about me, it is I am always looking at the horizon and ready to grow. You can expect OnCentive to keep being the tax incentive experts and focus on being the very best at tax credit recovery for a wide array of financial incentives, first and foremost. However, keep your eyes peeled for a larger play into a dynamic compliance solution with its sister companies Unemployment Tracker, SyncStream, Clear I-9, etc. We have big plans for OnCentive, both in its dedicated service area and beyond.