An Exclusive Interview with Pethealth’s CFO Alan Maresky
Next up we spoke to Alan Maresky, Chartered Accountant by profession, who is currently Chief Financial Officer at Pethealth Inc. Pethealth is an international leader in the provision of animal management software, RFID microchip identification, database related services for companion animals, and pet insurance, operating in North America and the United Kingdom. More recently, the company became a leading provider of pet pharmacy and pet specialty retail products to pet owners in the United Kingdom and Germany. Here Alan tells us more about the company’s achievements and regular challenges, as well as his role and its impact over the past two years.
What are Pethealth’s top priorities towards its clients?
Everything we do is driven by our mission of bringing vitality to lives, furry and otherwise. We aim to be a one-stop shop for all pet needs. In North America, that includes pet insurance, lost pet recovery services and memberships in a community that provides, not only a forum to share and learn more about pet ownership, but also access to special offers and promotions generated by our partners. In the UK, we have a discreet pet health insurance offering, as well as pharmaceutical, specialty food and pet retail services.
What differentiates Pethealth from its competitors?
Pethealth has a maniacal focus on customer service and employee satisfaction. We believe that having happy employees results in a better experience for our customers and clients.
What further goals is the company currently working towards?
We are constantly looking to improve internal processes to become more efficient and provide an improved customer experience. The way people choose to do business is evolving every day, as we service a wide audience, it is important that we stay up-to-date. We want to continue to expand – our current goal is to grow our pet insurance and the online retail platform in the UK and Europe.
Our membership offering in North America is a collection of the products and services pet owners have come to rely on to provide the premium level of protection for their pets. At the moment we see massive growth potential for this Membership in North America.
You joined Pethealth in 2015 – how would you evaluate your role and its impact over the last two years?
My time at Pethealth has been full of surprises – no two days look the same. My team and I spend most of our time addressing our internal processes and systems. We have also made a number of significant acquisitions, both in North America and the UK, which have bolstered our portfolio. With our most recent acquisition in Germany, we have expanded our footprint into Europe.
I play a key role in a wide range of initiatives at Pethealth. In addition to the Finance Team, many other departments report into me. The impact of having these different departments working together towards our shared goal has had immeasurable impact.
We believe that we have tremendous growth potential and are excited to be part of the Fairfax group of companies. With the insurance penetration in North America being less than 3%, there is significant upside awaiting in the untapped market. We have a proven model within the e-commerce platform in the UK that I see a tremendous potential in and the recent expansion into the German market will, hopefully, be the catalyst to growing in Europe.
What challenges would you say you and the firm encounter on a regular basis? How are these resolved?
Our internal systems are in need of a renovation. This makes keeping up with the demands of the business a challenge. I don’t think that we’re ‘nimble and flexible’ enough from an administration perspective. By making these adjustments on the back end, we are able to work more effectively and efficiently.
From a legislative point of view, the regulatory restrictions in the US pet insurance industry make any changes to our offering very onerous. Each state is independently regulated, so it is challenging to provide a single countrywide offering with a streamlined process. Any changes to our policies need to be approved on a state-by-state basis. which can take up to 18 months. This makes it difficult to react to market changes, however on the flip side, it acts a big barrier to enter the market.