5 things to know about ... the end-of-life services industry

By Emily McAuliffe

Matt Geleta and his colleagues at Bare are shifting the end-of-life services industry from funeral parlours and burial ceremonies to a more holistic offering that puts the customer first. And, as he reminds us, we all have a stake in this game.

Matt Geleta Bare

Matt works as Chief of Staff at Bare, a venture capital-backed technology company bringing end of life services into the digital age. He previously worked as a management consultant at Bain & Company in Sydney, and co-founded UK-based fast-fashion disruptor HURR.

Matt is a Trinity College alum and holds degrees from the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University (Burgmann), and the University of Oxford (Christ Church).

Here he lets us in on five things to know about working in the end-of-life services industry. 

Funerals are just one part of the end-of-life services industry

People tend to equate ‘end-of-life services’ with funerals. That’s understandable, but it’s not how the end-of-life journey is experienced by individuals and families.

In reality, ‘end of life’ is a broad category encompassing a diverse network of critical services that become relevant well before an individual passes away, including advanced healthcare planning, estate planning, and much more. A funeral is important, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

I personally feel this makes a career in the end-of-life services industry more interesting and varied (and more challenging) than one might expect. On a daily basis, I’m acutely aware that the work I do will have an impact across many life stages of those we serve.

There’s no holistic end-of-life services provider

Amazon is the ‘everything store’ for online retail. There’s no ‘everything store’ for end-of-life services. Nothing even comes close.

Today, the end-of-life services industry is complex, fragmented and, frankly, rather broken. There’s nothing remotely resembling a ‘one-stop shop’ for end-of-life planning. Instead, individuals and families have to navigate through complicated and often contradictory information sources and engage with many different companies and systems that don’t interface with one another (and that have a tendency to up-sell on things that families don’t actually need). This leads to confusion, a poor customer experience, and a big hit to the bank account.

Working in the end-of-life services industry provides me the opportunity to help create a more holistic end-of-life offering – something simpler, more holistic, and more affordable. It’s needed, and I’m glad to be playing a part in bringing this to fruition.

The industry is undergoing a digital transformation

End-of-life services still fall within a ‘pen and paper’ industry. The digital transformation wave has not yet reached this particular shoreline, in contrast to industries such as media, finance, and retail. But the wave is approaching.

The end-of-life services industry is increasingly moving online, and I’m lucky to be at the forefront of that. Bare is Australia’s first genuinely tech-enabled (online) end-of-life services company. We don’t have funeral parlours, we don’t stock or sell caskets or coffins, and we are able to automate many inefficient processes. This allows us to be very affordable, and enables us to provide families with time to focus more on the things that matter, and less on things that don’t.

I love that technology plays such a critical role in my work. I see firsthand the enormous value it’s generating for families and am excited by the even larger value yet to be unlocked.

There’s a cultural shift accompanying the industry’s transformation

Underlying all of the above is a shift in consumer preferences.

As an example, it’s well known that Australian preferences are shifting away from burial and towards cremation. More generally, there’s a shift away from ‘traditional’ towards ‘personalised’.

Instead of the traditional funeral service in a chapel with an ornate coffin, and a clergy member as a celebrant, Australians are opting for more personalised options such as informal outdoor gatherings in nature, with unconventional ash-scattering ceremonies.

Traditional end-of-life services companies have an incentive to resist this change as it’s not good for business (as there’s less money to be made when there’s no venue booking, no coffin, lower professional service fees etc.).

I’m fortunate to be working in an organisation for which this cultural trend is a tailwind rather than a headwind.

We all have a personal stake in this game

Death and taxes. There’s no getting around it. We’ll all be customers of the end-of-life services industry at some point. (Hopefully not too soon.)

It’s therefore in everyone’s best interest to make the industry as good as it can be.

This fact functions as a North Star in my work. Before each decision I make, I ask myself, ‘Would the outcome be something I’d recommend to a friend? To my parents? To myself?’ If there’s hesitation in answering ‘yes’, I know it’s likely the wrong decision.

It’s beautiful and humbling to be building a business that may one day have me or my loved ones as customers.


21 Jul 2021
Category: People