Here are the Top 4 unapproved expense report submissions

Business News | 6 Dec, 2019 |

It’s the holiday season and for many, this signals festivities, shopping, and celebrations. As these expenses begin to rack up for employees, are any sneaking extra charges into their expense report submissions?

AppZen, the world’s leading AI platform for modern finance teams, looked at millions of expenses from its aggregated, anonymized, direct customer data from December of last year to identify trends in unauthorized (as in, out-of-policy) spend being submitted for reimbursement during the holiday season.

Four main areas that AppZen identified were:

Gifts

According to the National Retail Federation, spending on gifts is expected to surpass $730B this year, an all-time high. So it’s no surprise that it was also the biggest area of unauthorized spend last year. In fact, our AI identified over $783,000 of out-of-policy gifts, which is nearly 9 times the monthly average of out-of-policy gift spend we caught the rest of the year. In contrast, the approved gift spend in December was $134,000.

Meals

According to the Deloitte 2019 holiday retail survey, holiday shoppers are spending significantly more on experiences, including socializing with family and friends. This trend is consistent with our data on unauthorized business meals, which in December of last year spiked to $52M, which is 7 times higher than the monthly average of the rest of the year.

Alcohol

Americans double their drinking during the holidays, according to BeverageDaily. Even more dramatically, we saw unauthorized alcohol spending in December of last year quintuple from the average for the rest of the months. These aren’t small expenses, either. The average incident of unauthorized alcohol spend was $573, which is 6x the monthly average of unauthorized alcohol spend during the rest of the year, and 12x the amount of authorized alcohol spend in December.

Gratuities

According to a Consumer Report survey, 60 percent of Americans tipped their service providers during the holidays last year, averaging $45 per person. While the holidays are certainly an appropriate time to show your appreciation, unauthorized gratuities in December of last year was a whopping 109x higher than the monthly average of unauthorized gratuity spend.

A blog post with more information can be seen at: AppZen.com/blog/holiday-spend-data/

While we don’t recommend extinguishing the atmosphere of holiday cheer with a strict expense policy this season (there’s certainly a benefit to rewarding employees and adapting expense policies to recognize their hard work), there’s a limit to reasonable expenses on the company dime. AppZen gives companies 100 percent visibility into their expenses and flags unauthorized, out-of-policy spend to your attention, so you can relax and enjoy the holiday season.  

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