Fraud and Compliance

Spend Insights Report Zooms in on T&E Dollars and Sense

SAP Concur |

Spending is climbing back toward where it was before, up 73% last year over 2021 with travel expenses leading the charge, positive but not shocking news with the economy opening back up. 

But as companies climb closer to business as usual, the recent Spend Insights Report also reveals a troubling number reflecting a business-as-unusual after-effect of the pandemic: Employee out-of-pocket cash spending jumped 81% and is the top category we found, clouding insight and compliance. 

So after a stretch of policies shifts and companies spending freely and differently to keep operations rolling, are employees confused, resistant, or taking advantage when using cash instead of purchasing cards? Well, it can be hard to know if you don’t look closely at purchases – and violations – or take advantage of technology that can help you uncover improper expenses and enforce the spending policies you have put in place. 

The insights report, produced in partnership with Oversight, an industry-leading provider of AI-based risk mitigation and spend monitoring solutions, examines the past, present, and future of business by looking at millions of transactions and billions in purchases. In addition to putting numbers to what you may see firsthand, the report looks at trends – like violation rates and which categories are rising or falling – and provides suggestions for how your business can get a better handle on where its dollars are going.  

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Here’s an overview of the report’s numbers and insights, information that can turn each spending decision into a moment of confidence and clarity instead of doubt and risk. 


Spending by the numbers 

Overall dollars: T&E spending is approaching levels not seen since early 2020, with a year-over-year increase of 73% in 2022 vs. 2021.  

Travel-specific: Dollars spent on airfare, lodging, transportation, and other trip expenses increased 178% from Q1 to Q4, 2022. Zooming in, airline spending was up 400% and lodging up 207%, 

Business services: Spending increased 43% on consulting, software, insurance, professional services, and other purchases that shouldn’t be part of T&E spend, a matter worthy of attention. 

Costly violations: Spending violations went up 7.9% year to year, costing companies $91.3 million – a 9.83% hike. 

That pesky cash: Excessive out-of-pocket spending transactions flagged for something out of the ordinary added up to nearly half – 44% – of all violations uncovered. Many possible reasons come into play. Employees might not be keeping up with policy changes, or businesses could do better educating team members of changes. Employees might just have become accustomed to not using company-issued cards during the pandemic. No matter the cause, companies will have to increase scrutiny and education if they want to reduce bad habits. 


Policing violations pays off 

Employees forget or ignore policy. Receipts go missing. Expenses get entered incorrectly. Managers override a policy they shouldn’t. Those are just some of what goes wrong.  

Don’t be lulled by a quick look at overall violation rates, which averaged 2.33% over the past four years. Because here’s the thing: The more businesses look at the spending exceptions they flag, the more violations they find and the more money they save. That 2.33% jumps to nearly 13% when companies more intensely audit and review flagged exceptions. 

Wondering where to begin? Start with the top 5 violation categories we found: excessive out of pocket, travel fraud risk, suspicious expense line keywords, duplicate expenses from the same employee, and travel card policy misuse. 


Prevention and other steps 

It takes multiple approaches and tools to better understand and control T&E spending so your business can take advantage of opportunities. Here are some suggestions from the report to consider: 

  • Make training and education a priority. For example, use the communication and messaging options in your booking and expense reporting tools to guide team members to compliant choices and answer questions, too. 

  • Funnel electronic receipts from travel providers into expense reports and the right categories. 

  • Give employees mobile apps that snap pictures of receipts and send them to reports, where technology incorporating AI and machine learning can improve accuracy. 

  • Examine your policies and, again, work your exceptions. 

  • Seek audit tools that use intelligent technology to reveal trends and problems – and maybe even explaining why violations for “publishing services” skyrocketed 2,469.8% last year (What the heck?!). 


Get the report, get insights 

Download a copy of the report for a more extensive look at how last year’s spending compares to that of years past and about the trends, approaches, and technology that can prepare you for what’s ahead. 

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