Why Modernizing Expense Technology Is Critical

As a financial planner or insurance agent, you know it’s extremely important to track every expense you incur. Every penny must be tracked within a very highly-regulated industry. Many firms even have limits on what you can spend per client.

So, how do you track these expenses? If you enter this data manually, you know it’s tedious, time-consuming, and expensive. Plus, there is always the risk of human error.

What will help you manage client purchases – and travel expenses – is investing in automated expense management technology. This eliminates all manual entry, better organizes and tracks expenses, and ultimately saves you lots of time and money. It’s simpler.

Now, you may already know about expense tools – but do you know if you’re using the right one? Is it tailored to your line of work as a financial planner or insurance agent? We’ll get to that.

Using the right kind of tools here leads to getting reimbursed faster. And who wouldn’t want that? We tell you how this smart and easy-to-use business technology will help you manage your expenses, and, ultimately, become more productive and profitable.

  • Easy To Use

At the end of the day, the government wants to know what you are spending to attract certain customers. This means tracking every single penny each day. It doesn’t matter if you work at a large institution or a family-owned shop when it comes to tracking expenses. Everyone must do it within this industry.

Luckily, expense management technology makes your life a heck of a lot easier here: Connect to your e-mail on your cell phone, or take a picture, and all of your expense documents automatically come together. You can even upload paper documents through apps and websites if you prefer.

Now, here is where you need a specifically tailored expense management app that really helps you out: one that allows you to add project codes and notes. Forget writing, for example, “This is for the Johnson Project” on a receipt. Instead, do things digitally: fill in the so-called “metadata” fields for each uploaded receipt so that you know which expense is related to which client. There is no more guessing. No more missed reimbursements.

  • It Goes Where You Do

You’re likely constantly on the go. You meet customers at different places and pay for their coffee or their meal. You also pay for your own gas in order to meet them. Now, sometimes you can turn those expenses into reimbursement that gets added to your commission. But that doesn’t always happen. You can’t (and don’t want to) spend more money on the customer than your potential upside to attract the client or win the deal.

So, how do you avoid this situation? Simple: Use expense management technology that you can take anywhere. This allows you to manage these costs as they happen. Imagine this scenario: Connect to your e-mail on your cell phone, or take a picture, and all of your expense documents automatically come together. You can even upload paper documents through apps, or a website if you prefer.

The big draw here for financial planners: doing this on your mobile phone. Why bother with some type of fancy accounting software on your computer when you have what you need anywhere you are? You will only end up paying a lot while receiving very little. It’s not worth it. Keep it simple and use your mobile phone. If you can operate a mobile phone camera, you can operate expense management tools. That is the only training criteria.

  • Saves Times and Money

We know that many financial advisors simply don’t have time to stay on top of their own bookkeeping. They spend a majority of their time analyzing how best to serve their clients in financial planning and investment.  And if you ask us, that’s how it should be. This is where expense management technology can help.

Staying on top of your business’s accounting requires time to get organized and categorize expenses correctly. If you have ever used paper ledgers, you know this. But why spend all of this time on data entry if there is a smarter way to do it? For example, we know one financial advisor who has saved about 5 hours each month once they started using expense management apps. That turned into nearly 60 hours each year. This is 60 hours they can use to invest in their business and clients — not in tedious data entry.

What about money? We’ve worked with financial advisors who started saving in the same month that they began using it. You can may save yourself big bucks even — it’s not unheard of to save an extra $500 to $2,000 each month even.

Bottom line: If you want to take control over your expenses – large and small – use automated expense management technology.  You will spend more time doing your actual work and less time on mundane data entry. This means more time focusing on the core of your business as a financial planner: your clients.


James Thomas is the founder and CEO of Itemize, a payments data company whose technology transforms receipts and invoices into structured information for commercial card data enhancement, accounts payable management and employee expense tracking.

Prior to founding Itemize, Jim launched MasterCard’s payments data and analytics business, applying behavioral analytics and mathematics to large payments data sets.  Previously, Jim served as a vice president at First Manhattan Consulting Group. He has also held positions at Morgan Stanley and Booz-Allen and Hamilton. Jim holds a BA from Franklin and Marshall College, a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Jim also serves on the board of directors of Cultural Vistas, a non-profit international exchange organization for young professionals.

Ryan Courtade, VP of revenue operations at Itemize Corpl also contributed to the article.