As a CFO, it is your job to control travel costs and catch expense fraud. You and your team have to do it based on the expense reports submitted by employees of the company. What are some key things to watch for, so that you can reduce fraud and waste?
1. Check The Dates
This may seem obvious, but so often it is overlooked. An employee goes to Toronto on a business trip slated to finish up Friday. Why not stay the weekend and expense the food and drinks? Who will ever know? You will, if you are a smart cost manager. That’s who.
2. It’s Often The Little Things
A traveling sales executive checks into an approved hotel and decides to upgrade to the luxury suite. A VP goes out for an expensive dinner with an escort, expensing it as a business dinner. All this extra spending adds up and it can be hard to catch, if you don’t have systems in place for cross-checking information and compare information from actual expense reports to estimates on a running basis.
3. Travel Is The Main Area To Watch
Travel expenses are the main area you need to watch. Surveys indicate that half of expense violations are related to travel expenses. So if you are operating with reduced resources and need to prioritize, travel expense reports should be at the top of the list
4. Verify, Verify, Verify
You need to verify the information you are given on an ongoing basis. If a business dinner is expensed, you need to ask for a list of guests, preferably in advance, in order to judge the amount charged. You also need to ask for details and actual receipts for all charges on the company credit card. It is the only way to verify the expenses.
5. Don’t Rely On Spot Checking
When you rely on random spot checks of expense reports, you are likely to miss countless fudged expenses. Companies that only spot audit at most manage to check 60% of expense reports, and usually far fewer than that. With a good automation software you can vastly improve your ability to check reports. So if you are not already automated, now is the time.