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Majority (55%) of Small Business Owners Say Realizing Cost Savings Through Better Management of Employee Expenses Would Most Benefit Their Business

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40% say that better managing employee spending would ‘give me greater peace of mind’
Findings are among key results in Citizens Financial Group/MasterCard study on employee expense management in small businesses

PROVIDENCE, R.I., Oct. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — More than half (55%) of small business owners across the country says that “realizing cost savings” through better management of employee expenses “would most benefit” their business. Relatedly, 40% said that better managing employee spending on business-related purchases would “give me greater peace of mind.”

These are among the key findings of a Citizens Financial Group/MasterCard survey of more than 400 owners of small businesses with two to 100 employees.

In the study, small business owners were asked:

Which ways and outcomes of better managing employee expenses would most benefit your business?

  • Realizing cost savings 55%
  • Consolidating spending that can be used to negotiate a lower price with vendors, suppliers and service providers 32%
  • Establishing individualized spending parameters or budgets for each employee and getting monthly reports 19%
  • Receiving alerts when my employee spending exceeds budget or takes place in an unauthorized way 19%
  • Mitigating risks and stress related to financial auditing 10%

“Without question, small companies that manage expenses well will be better able to weather the current recessionary storms, but there must be an easy way for them to do it,” said D. Stephen Wooters, Head of Commercial Cards, Citizens Financial Group. “Unlike large corporations, where teams of professionals are focused on spend management, small companies don’t have the staff or the time to devote to managing expenses. Using technology to rethink expense management – through simple, efficient tools – gives the power of large businesses to the small business owner.”

The Citizens Financial Group/MasterCard study also asked small business owners:

What methods do you employ to enable your employees to pay for day-to-day business expenses?

  • Cash reimbursement system     36%
  • A company credit or debit card     32%
  • Petty cash system     29%
  • My own personal card     21%
  • Individually-issued corporate card for employees     19%
  • I don’t allow employees to pay for any expenses/I handle all expenses myself     31%

“With 65% of small business owners using either a cash reimbursement system or a petty cash system to reimburse employees for company expenses – and another 31% handling all expenses themselves – the conclusion is obvious: This is not the most efficient way of running a business,” said Mr. Wooters. “So they should take advantage of easy-to-implement technology to provide the spend management solutions they need to succeed.”

In the study, small business owners reported they “completely” or “somewhat” agree with the following statements about employee expense management:

  • I wish I had an easier way to track and control employee expenses     35%
  • If my business had a better way of controlling and monitoring expenses, I would be more amenable to letting my employees be more independent by having access to a portion of my business spending account      32%
  • I am concerned that I would not be able to quickly identify any fraud or misuse of company funds by employees, if it happened     31%
  • Monitoring and managing employee expenses is one of the things I dislike most about my job     28%
  • I am concerned that my business does not have adequate processes to prevent any misuse of company funds     27%
  • I wish I didn’t have to spend so much time controlling employee expenses     25%

To address these concerns of small business owners, Citizens Financial Group recently launched accessCARD Command™, a groundbreaking expense-management solution now available for no extra charge to all Citizens Bank and Charter One commercial card customers with annual revenues of less than $25 million. Leveraging the MasterCard inControl™ platform, accessCARD Command allows business owners to easily set spending controls on the cards issued to their employees and to receive real-time account information, including purchases made or attempted by their employees.

Citizens Financial Group is the first financial institution in the United States to provide access to this technology to its small business cardholders. It is now available to the bank’s Business Banking and Commercial Enterprise Banking customers.

“We know from our customers that there is a strong and growing demand for technologies that can help them conduct their banking business more easily and more efficiently,” said Mr. Wooters. “accessCARD Command answers our customers’ requirements for high security, improved control and greater cost efficiency for their commercial card accounts.”

With accessCARD Command, Citizens’ business cardholders are able to:

  • Set up and manage exactly where, when, how and for what types of purchases their employees’ cards may be used.
  • Set up spend limits and budgets for particular types of spending.
  • Establish how and when they receive alerts, via text and/or e-mail, to safeguard against overspending and keep them informed in real time about attempted card activity.
  • Create limited use, virtual card numbers so that spending controls can be set for individual transactions or recurring use, providing enhanced levels of security and convenience as the business owners real account number is never revealed to the employee or merchant.

accessCARD Command is another in a series of “access”-branded offerings that Citizens’ Global Transaction Services team has developed specifically for the ease-of-use, flexibility and accessibility of banking functions for businesses. Late last year Citizens launched accessMOBILE™, a breakthrough corporate mobile banking application that for the first time empowers commercial and business banking customers to manage their cash and payments from a mobile device. Earlier this year Citizens pioneered accessBUSINESS Manager™, an all-in-one, fixed-price package of cash management products developed for small- and mid-sized businesses. This first-to-market offering provides business owners with a combination of convenience and cash management services in a bundled package.

For more information on accessCARD Command, or to speak with Steve Wooters, please contact Davia Temin or Jim Daniels of Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or news@teminandco.com .

About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is a $132 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and, through its subsidiaries, has more than 1,500 branches, approximately 3,900 ATMs and more than 20,900 colleagues. Its two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. CFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states. CFG is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). CFG’s website is citizensbank.com.

SOURCE Citizens Financial Group

Web Site: http://www.citizensbank.com

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