By Daniel Hunter

The 19th of December is the busiest expense day for finance teams according to data from Concur, a leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions.

Based on Concur’s industry-leading expense transaction data — comprised of millions of expense reports — the volume of reports submitted on 19th December, 2011 was 140 per cent higher than the daily average.

As expense claim forms flood in, it’s the finance departments who have to cope with the increased administration as they look to close out year-end for most UK businesses.

A YouGov study revealed that, among UK workers who’ve ever claimed expenses in the run up to Christmas, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) are motivated to do so at this time of year to “close off loose ends before the end of the year”.

“Reclaiming money for the expensive Christmas period” and “needing to reclaim the money for the long month ahead of the January pay cheque” were also cited as other key reasons to get expense claims in, for nearly one in six people respectively (15 per cent).

“Managing the expense claim process manually is an incredibly challenging job particularly at this time of year," Isabel Montesdeoca, General Manager of Concur, EMEA commented.

"However, companies that have invested in an automated expense management system will certainly feel the benefits over Christmas as the burden on the accounts department is lifted and employees are reimbursed quickly ahead of the expensive festive break.”

Concur’s web and mobile-based integrated travel and expense management solutions can accelerate the expense claim management process, while providing finance teams with greater levels of visibility and control. It also ensures that outstanding expenses from company employees are quickly reimbursed. According to Aberdeen Group, the average processing days per expense claim for highly-automated companies is three days versus 15 for semi-automated organisations.

Clive Lewis, Head of Enterprise, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales says many businesses have an end of December year end, and for others it is an important financial reporting quarter day. “Businesses need to keep on top of their costs so that financial reports can be produced as soon as possible after the year/ period end. Automated expenses systems make the process of claiming expenses much quicker for employees and give companies up-to-date figures to work with,” says Mr Lewis.

Jeanette Barrowcliffe, Finance Director of Meridian Business Support says getting ready for year end and completing budgets for the following year makes Christmas a busy period for finance teams. “Prior to Meridian investing in automating its travel and expenses system, processing and paying expenses was yet another task that finance had to fit into their busy schedule. Due to being busy, staff would generally leave the claiming of expenses to the last minute whilst, understandably, expecting payment prior to Christmas, which created a very intense time for all.”

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