Valentine’s day can be a wonderful time of year — especially for the retail industry. According to consumer trend predictions, spending on Valentine’s day gifts, dates, and flowers this year is expected to reach over $20 billion in the United States alone. How can you prevent your company from footing the bill? Whether legitimate or not, below are some examples you may want to pay extra attention to this month, based on items flagged by our AI-powered Expense Audit platform.
1. Fancy dinners
Client appreciation dinners are a standard practice in many industries, but keep an eye out for dinners that don’t have any attendees listed or are higher than the usual meal limit – particularly if they include several bottles of wine and a couple desserts. Based on the craziest expenses we’ve seen, it wouldn’t surprise us if employees try to fly their Valentine’s day dinners under the radar.
There are of course certain circumstances in which it would be appropriate to expense flowers. Perhaps an employee lost a loved one, or you want to congratulate a key client that just got married. But if there’s an unexplained spike in red roses being expensed in February, you might want to take a second look.
3. Spa visits
This isn’t a red flag necessarily, especially if your company offers spas and health club visits as incentives for a job well done (which if you don’t already include in your policy, you should definitely consider!) Maybe someone on the sales team landed a huge account and deserves a special perk. If this is the case, make sure there’s a valid reason included with the expense report.
Yes, we’ve seen it all — including jewelry! Last quarter, our platform flagged a jewelry purchase that an employee was bold enough to submit for reimbursement. We can’t think of a reasonable business case for this one, and neither could the employer, who rejected it as well.
Employees can get pretty crafty in what they claim as business spend, especially around holidays like Valentine’s day. Although we aren’t the judge or the jury, by integrating into a company’s expense automation system, we audit every line item of an expense report in real time to spot compliance issues, waste, and potential fraud prior to reimbursement. While we don’t recommend scrutinizing every single line of each expense report (in fact, that’s the opposite of what we recommend), it’s worth noting what we’ve caught in the past to stay ahead of potential expense report misuse this month.