Administrative Expenses

Costs incurred by a company or organization that include, but are not limited to, the benefits and salaries of the administrative workers, as well as rent and managerial compensation

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What are Administrative Expenses?

Administrative expenses refer to the costs incurred by a company or organization that include, but are not limited to, the salaries and benefits of the administrative workers within the company or organization, as well as rent and managerial compensation. Also known as General and Administrative expenses, the costs are categorized separately from Sales & Marketing and Research costs.

Administrative Expenses - Screenshot of Amazon's financial statement with General and Administrative Expenses highlighted

From an accounting perspective, administrative expenses are considered an indirect expense because they are not directly related to the manufacturing of a product, such as an engineer or assembly line worker.

Understanding Administrative Expenses

Administrative expenses can be found on the income statement for the period upon which they occurred. As a business scales and grows, like in the case of a tech startup, the administrative expenses tend to remain stable and proportional, while the front-line workers and engineers tend to scale up in size, e.g., when there is an increase in production or a push to develop a new revolutionary piece of software/hardware.

Below is a more comprehensive list of different types of administrative expenses, and non-administrative expenses:

1. Administrative Expenses

  • Managerial team
  • IT team
  • Executive compensation
  • Rent of equipment and buildings

2. Non-Administrative Expenses

  • Manufacturers
  • Developers
  • Engineers
  • Sales Team

Administrative Expenses in Practice

If you are a small business owner or are attempting to launch a startup, understanding why operational, administrative, and sales expenses are often separated is crucial in budgeting and forecasting. Understanding where your expenses will grow and where they will stay stagnant will help you determine how to allocate capital and grow the business.

It can also help existing and potential investors see how you manage capital and that you, as a savvy business owner/entrepreneur, know how to properly scale and allocate resources.

Understanding Administrative Expenses as an Investor

As an investor looking to grow your savings, understanding a company’s administrative expenses can help you better evaluate how a company invests resources. It can help you know what proportion of their capital a company is spending on indirect or support expenses relative to direct operating costs, as well as to their relative cash position.

It is important to better understand and qualify a potential investment and ascertain whether a company’s operations are sustainable or headed towards financial distress. ROI is critical to any investor, and knowing how a company is allocating its administrative expenses is a crucial facet of being a successful and savvy investor.

Role in Audit

If your company successfully employed an accounting information system and is currently undergoing an audit, it is possible that the auditors may use the administrative expenses to trace the allocation of capital and payments to management and leadership. It can be done for a myriad of reasons, including simply a routine randomized audit.

Putting it Into Context: Building Compliance

The successful deployment of an accounting information system can allow a company to better track, scrutinize, and provide transparency towards its administrative expenses. It allows for greater trust and compliance and will boost investor and public confidence.

A well-categorized income statement that includes administrative expenses is a central facet for any company to build a culture of compliance that reflects inward and to the investing public at large.

Related Readings

Thank you for reading CFI’s explanation of Administrative Expenses. In order to help you become a world-class financial analyst and advance your career to your fullest potential, these additional resources will be very helpful:

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