Mid-sized businesses could be losing $17,000 a year due to fraud, according to an SAP Concur global survey. “The Hidden Cost of Expense Fraud and Non-Compliance” report takes a closer look at the topic of expense fraud and employees’ attitudes towards it, how businesses are tackling the issue, and the digital tools which have the potential to help.
Adjusting expense submissions might encompass a broad spectrum of behaviours: from deliberately falsifying receipts through to claiming a “little bit extra” as recompense for a long weekend business trip. The research reveals that employees believe that it’s acceptable to knowingly submit a false expense claim of up to $145 on average.
While it’s important to understand that most incorrect claims are raised unintentionally, it’s also important to understand those factors that make deliberate expense fraud more likely to happen – and these are often related to employee awareness and satisfaction. According to the survey:
- There is a widespread lack of understanding of fraudulent activity and its implications for employees and the business. For example, 49% of employees have rounded up mileage fees, while a further 14% would consider doing it. In addition, 41% have expensed private restaurant bills, and another 16% would consider doing it.
- Almost half (48%) of employees think it is perfectly acceptable to over expense or disregard company policies regarding expenses on a yearly basis. Should all these people act on these attitudes, a company of 250 people that hand in expense reports could potentially be looking at an annual loss of USD 17,000.
- Many employees cite fairness as a reason for their tolerant attitude towards cheating: whether that’s to get a little extra compensation for the overtime they don’t get paid for (19%), for the private money they need to spend on working from home (18%), or for the time spent travelling for business (17%).
Pierre-Emmanuel Tetaz, EMEA SVP & General Manager, SAP Concur, explains: “It’s clear from our research that expense fraud is commonplace, and often at such a small scale, that some employees don’t even see it as an issue. For some employees – from juniors to leaders – it’s not only okay to hand in incorrect expense claims, but they also consider themselves totally justified in doing so.
For organisations it can be an issue though– and this goes beyond lost profits. Travel and finance teams may spend many hours checking and investigating expense claims, and there is always the risk of non-compliance and its potential consequences.
Tools like our new Concur Detect by Oversight that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) help to ease that burden. AI can help automate some of the more labour-intensive tasks, identify patterns and make data-based decisions. This frees up time for organizations to focus on educating employees on T&E policy and the perils of non-compliance and making tailored policy adjustments.”
As companies look towards the future, business and finance leaders are starting to see how AI-enabled solutions will help them to better tackle fraud and non-compliant expenses:
- Over half of travel and finance decision makers (54%) believe that artificial intelligence tools can help detect fraud
- Over half of travel and finance decision makers (54%) believe that artificial intelligence tools can simplify their compliance processes.
- However, with AI comes critical concerns about the unintended consequences for employees. Almost half (44%) of decision makers worry that employees might object to the use of AI tools in the compliance process, and 39% are afraid that AI will make their job redundant.