5 things to include in your client's expense policy

Read about guidelines to help you and your clients create an effective expense policy for their businesses.

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When your firm expands your client advisory services to include spend management advisory, one area where you can advise your clients is in the creation of an expense policy for their business.

An expense policy is a set of guidelines or rules that communicate exactly what purchases are and are not appropriate for employees to make with the company’s money. Creating an expense policy is about creating clear communication and trust between your client and their employees. There are always exceptions and gray areas, so having a policy in place will help enforce and streamline your client’s use of BILL Spend & Expense.

1. Purpose

A purpose statement can align everyone—your client and their employees—to the same objectives. Ultimately, everyone at your client’s company wants the company to be successful and profitable, and the purpose statement should help the employees understand how the expense policy will achieve that.

The purpose of a good expense policy is to fulfill several goals:

  • Saving your clients money by preventing unauthorized spend
  • Clearly communicating policies and procedures
  • Building trust between your clients and their employees

Outline your client’s objectives for their expense policy at the very beginning of the document. This will help set employee expectations and build a foundation of communication and trust.

2. Scope

Define who at the company is authorized to spend on its behalf—and is therefore covered by this policy. We recommend that everyone at the company receive a BILL Divvy card, so that assigning funds to them when necessary is quick and easy. By empowering more employees to spend, while outlining who is responsible for approving the spend requests, your client will spread out the workload for company spend, freeing up upper management’s time for other work.

3. Rules

The section of an expense policy that traditionally outlines the rules of spending company money looks a little different if your client is using Spend & Expense, because money cannot be spent on a BILL Divvy card unless both the money and the user have been assigned to a budget. So this section of your client’s expense policy should go over expectations and guidelines for employees to use Spend & Expense. Consider points such as using the correct budget, uploading receipts for reconciliation, and transaction classification.

4. Exceptions

Where there are rules, there will be exceptions. Helping your client create a policy that covers these exceptions will eliminate confusion and boost trust between them and their employees. Common exceptions include price ranges for variable costs, materiality thresholds, and specific guidelines for spending within a budget (for example, if your client will pay for dinner but not alcoholic beverages).

5. Processes

An expense policy is the perfect place for your client to go over processes related to budget and employee spend. Building processes and clearly communicating them to employees will help your client’s finance team—and you—approve budgets and understand spend without extra work. Some processes you should cover in this section include:

  • Budget, fund, and reimbursement requests in the BILL Spend & Expense app
  • Per diem budget
  • When to use virtual cards instead of the physical BILL Divvy cards
  • Communication channels for asking questions and getting clarification

These guidelines can help you and your clients create a clear and effective expense policy for their business. Having a robust expense policy will help your client build trust and communication with their employees, as well as save their business time and money.

The information provided on this page does not, and is not intended to constitute legal or financial advice and is for general informational purposes only. The content is provided "as-is"; no representations are made that the content is error free.