Brian De Leon, Director of Business Development at Chrome Rivers, discussed the importance of accurate expenses reporting in a Thought Leadership Spotlight with Argyle’s CFO membership at the 2015 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum in Chicago on Nov. 18. In his presentation, “What Were They Thinking?,” De Leon examined the widespread abuse of expense reporting and how businesses can eliminate this problem.
To illustrate his point, De Leon explored a news story about the expense reporting abuse by members of the UK’s Parliament. According to De Leon, several Parliament members resigned following reports of expense reporting abuse. He also examined the former vice president of human resources at Wal-Mart, who lost his position because he created false invoices. De Leon offered several theories about why these people would abuse their power. But ultimately, he noted a lack of self-control was a major problem: “We all know that self-control is hard. Even good people can lose it when that self-control muscle is exhausted. Our job in this room is not just to be a cop, but to help people maintain their control, especially if it’s true that it’s particularly easy to get away with it. When that temptation is available or easy to rationalize it just makes it that much more ripe for the taking.”
Ultimately, it is easier to avoid temptation than it is to overcome it, De Leon concluded. As such, he recommended establishing protocols and enforcing them to eliminate the risk of expense fraud. Eliminating loopholes in expense reporting policies is crucial, De Leon added, as well as devoting the necessary time and resources to study expense reports: “The self-control muscle had been exhausted for one reason or another and they made huge mistakes. We’re in the business of protecting people from themselves. We’re not trying to protect people from ethical failings, but from human failings. It’s our job to do our best to remove the temptation.”