What Does an Expense Administrator Do?

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux

An expense administrator verifies the expense reports of a business, making payments to appropriate individuals or companies upon verification and handling any abuse of funds. He ensures that all bills are necessary and accurate, which prevents exorbitant or unauthorized spending and revenue loss. It is also his responsibility to keep detailed records, both electronic and non-electronic, of receipts and payments.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Each company has specific policies and forms required for making payments and reimbursements. As new employees or service providers do not always know these policies and forms, the expense administrator explains or provides them. He also answers any inquiries about the policies and forms as necessary, such as whether a particular expense qualifies for company reimbursement.

For tax and legal reasons, expense administrators collect invoices and receipts, using the documentation to ensure that the amount to be paid is justified and accurate. Expense administration is closely linked to payroll processing and often is done by the same person, so many administrators verify time cards. They also gather other data needed for proper payment such as bank routing numbers or addresses.

Once the expense administrator has verified an expense is legitimate, he must keep a record of the expense. Often this means making copies and putting them in a company file, but it also involves entering the expenses in a computerized system and coding every expense to ensure proper budget allocation and tax treatment.

Expense management is a complex process, and errors can and do occur. For instance, an employee might fill out an expense report improperly, or the administrator might accidentally authorize a payment to the wrong account. When these mistakes happen, the administrator must locate the source or reason for the error, notify those affected and take steps to remedy the problem.

The company ideal is that all employees treat company funds and properties with respect, but in reality, some employees try to get a business to cover expenses that are not the company's responsibility, or are higher than necessary. When an administrator finds that someone has been doing this, he takes appropriate action according to company policy, such as issuing a verbal warning or submitting evidence of the abuse to higher officials. This doesn't always make the administrator popular among employees, but it is critical for the administrator to enforce company policies if management is to retain an aura of authority.

Sometimes when an expense administrator takes a new position, or as company circumstances change, he sees ways in which the current system of administrating company funds is not as efficient as it might be. As a type of manager, the administrator is supposed to identify areas that could use improvement and brainstorm about ways to change the expense strategy or tools. Companies might require him to submit formal proposals for any modifications and present his ideas to shareholders or board members.

At some companies, insurance issues are within the expense administrator's purview, as well. For example, they might have to arrange payments for insurance on company vehicles, as insurance providers must be paid for services similar to any other vendor. In these cases, the administrator liaises with the insurance companies and any third parties.

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