SG&A Expenses (Selling, General & Administrative)

Updated on April 5, 2024
Article byPritha Banerjee
Edited byPritha Banerjee
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Are SG&A Expenses?

Selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses include all the expenses incurred in the selling of the products of the company, whether direct or indirect, along with the entire general and the administrative expenses during an accounting period under consideration, such as advertisement expenses, sales promotion expenses, marketing salaries, etc.

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For eg:
Source: SG&A Expenses (Selling, General & Administrative) (wallstreetmojo.com)

Therefore an excessive SG&A expense leads to a decrease in EBIT. But these expenses are also important to carry on a day to day activities. Therefore a balanced amount should be spent keeping in mind the structure of the company (more fixed costsFixed CostsFixed Cost refers to the cost or expense that is not affected by any decrease or increase in the number of units produced or sold over a short-term horizon. It is the type of cost which is not dependent on the business activity.read more than variable costs and vice versa).

SG&A Expenses Explained

Selling, General & Administrative expenses are major drivers of operating income. They are reported in the profit and loss account of the company, and they are deducted from the company’s revenue to get the operating income. They are considered an extremely important financial calculation that provides information about the efficiency level of the business while managing its daily operations and how the profitability is affected by it. 

As we know, Gross Margin – SG&A = Operating Income, also referred to as EBIT (Earnings before interest taxes). ) they are not always attributable directly to the manufacturing of products and services but can be typically associated with administrative, selling and marketing functions of the business.  

SG&A expenses list includes those expenses that are necessary to keep the business going. However, they are not directly included in manufacturing or product costProduct CostProduct cost refers to all those costs which are incurred by the company in order to create the product of the company or deliver the services to the customers and the same is shown in the financial statement of the company for the period in which they become the part of the cost of the goods that are sold by the company.read more.

The expense given below and other SG&A expenses included in the income statement of the company, and examples include –

  1. Rent
  2. Utilities
  3. Accounting and legal expenses
  4. Sales commissionSales CommissionSales commission is a monetary reward awarded by companies to the sales reps who have managed to achieve their sales target. It is an incentive geared towards producing more sales and rewarding the performers while simultaneously recognizing their efforts. A sales commission agreement is signed to agree on the terms and conditions set for eligibility to earn a commission.read more paid
  5. Salaries/wages

SG&A is an important point to remember when calculating a company’s profitability. It is all the costs that are not related to the direct manufacturing of the product. It is the total of the costs essential for the manufacturing process, like advertising, commissions, travel, etc. Research and development costs are not included in SG&A expenses.

When such expenses increase too much without a rise in sales or a drop in sales, it is very important to reduce the SG&A costs. High Selling, General & Administrative costs decrease the profitability of the shareholdersShareholdersA shareholder is an individual or an institution that owns one or more shares of stock in a public or a private corporation and, therefore, are the legal owners of the company. The ownership percentage depends on the number of shares they hold against the company's total shares.read more.

SG&A Expense

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For eg:
Source: SG&A Expenses (Selling, General & Administrative) (wallstreetmojo.com)

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List Of SG&A Expenses

Given below is a list of all the different categories of expenses that are included in it. Let us to understand them in details.

#1 – Selling Expenses

The SG&A expenses list includes includes the selling expenses that are divided into direct expenseDirect ExpenseDirect cost refers to the cost of operating core business activity—production costs, raw material cost, and wages paid to factory staff. Such costs can be determined by identifying the expenditure on cost objects.read more and indirect expensesIndirect ExpensesIndirect expenses are the general costs incurred for running business operations and management in any enterprise. In simple terms, when you want to buy grocery from a supermarket, the transportation cost to get you to the supermarket and back is the indirect expenses.read more.

  • Direct expenses are shipping expenses of the product and sales commissions.
  • Indirect expenses are the costs that occur throughout the manufacturing process, including product advertising and promotional expenses, traveling expenses, and telephone bills of the sales consultants.

#2 – General & Administrative Expenses

General & Administrative Expenses are the overhead expensesOverhead ExpensesOverhead cost are those cost that is not related directly on the production activity and are therefore considered as indirect costs that have to be paid even if there is no production. Examples include rent payable, utilities payable, insurance payable, salaries payable to office staff, office supplies, etc.read more of the company. They are the fixed costs incurred by the company like the rent, mortgages, and insurance that need to be paid. It also includes all the salaries and wages of the workers.

SG&A expense depends on the structure of the company, whether the company has more fixed costs than variable costs and vice versa.

Examples

Given below are some examples of total SG&A expenses that will help us to understand the concept better.

Example #1

Now we will see an example of General & Administrative Expenses.

Rajesh is an accountant of a startup companyStartup CompanyA startup can be expressed as a business in its initial phases, searching for a practical and scalable model. Often, these companies launch and market a unique idea, product, or service that in some way offers fresh benefits to the society. Reliable models aid in the rapid growth of the business.read more XYZ. He needs to calculate the Selling General & Administrative expenses, including the depreciationDepreciationDepreciation is a systematic allocation method used to account for the costs of any physical or tangible asset throughout its useful life. Its value indicates how much of an asset’s worth has been utilized. Depreciation enables companies to generate revenue from their assets while only charging a fraction of the cost of the asset in use each year. read more.

Rajesh needs to include the salaries of the people of all the company departments and the associated taxes. E.g., utilities, telephone, insurance, rent, repairs & maintenance associated with the building. Also, the office equipment and the advertising expenses, commissions, travel expenses, selling and marketing supplies, and administrative and general supplies.

Once he calculates the SG&A Expenses before depreciation, he deducts the depreciation of the office building and the depreciation of the office equipment. The net $ 238500 is the amount that will be reported on the income statementReported On The Income StatementThe income statement is one of the company's financial reports that summarizes all of the company's revenues and expenses over time in order to determine the company's profit or loss and measure its business activity over time based on user requirements.read more.

sg&a expense example 1

We will now see some live examples of companies selling General & Administrative expenses. We can get the data from the income statement of the company.

Example #2

SG&A Expenses of ITC are as follows:

We can get the report from the financial tab of ITC limited. We need to choose an income statement to view the SG&A expenses.

sg&a expense example 2

Source: Yahoo Finance

We can see that selling, general, and administrative expenses are reported in the operating expenses sectionOperating Expenses SectionOperating expense (OPEX) is the cost incurred in the normal course of business and does not include expenses directly related to product manufacturing or service delivery. Therefore, they are readily available in the income statement and help to determine the net profit.read more of the income statement.

Importance

Selling, General & Administrative expenses are vital in determining your operating income. If we subtract total SG&A expenses from Gross Margin, we get Operating Income.

Disadvantages

Excessive SG&A Expenses will hurt the company’s profit figures and, in return, reduce the shareholder’s returns.

How To Forecast?

It is possible to forecast these type of expenses in a company.

  • Historical data related to the financial statements give agood insight into the past trends, seasonality or any volatility in these expenses.
  • The key drivers of costs should be identified like the marketing cost, technology advancement, inflation, increase in labor cost etc should be monitored to keep track of other SG&A Expenses.
  • Since the expenses depend on sales and production levels, planning sales and production ahead can help in forcasting SG&A expenses.
  • Proper budgeting and cost management at every step of the business process can help in forecasting how much or upto what level these cost may go up or come down.
  • Sensitivity analysis should be done to evaluate the impact of various situations in the expense fluctuation. This will help in forcasting them ahead.

How To Reduce?

  • Restructuring and cost-cutting are required to reduce the expenses of Selling, General & Administrative costs. . It is important to conduct a comprehensive analysis of these types of expenses. The business should be able to identify the areas that require cost reduction. It may involve processes like contract negotiation or any other operation related process where ost is increasing.
  • Reducing non-sales personnel salaries and cutting travel costs will help to regularize these costs and SG&A expense percentage.
  • . It is necessary to keep a strict over the travel, entertainment or other areas involving discretionary spending.
  • The company may also consider outsourcing some of their processes that incur huge cost, to places or organizations in which the labor cost will be very low. This will decrease the cost on staffing and overheads at the same time improve the service levels.
  • It is a great idea to invest in skill and knowledge development of employees so that they are able towork efficiently and understand why and how to keep cost under control. This will also reduce error and increase efficiency.
  • The business should regularly monitor and track the cost and identify overspending and inefficiency and take corrective action to control them.
  • It is crucial to analyse the process or workflow, the organizational structure, eliminate any duplication which leads to extra cost.
  • The business should optimize the process of resource allocation to reduce waste, reorganize the departmental work and implement better work principles.
  • Investment in technological advancements and automation tools make work faster, improve productivity and customer relation which in turn reduce SG&A Expenses.
  • The relationship with vendors and suppliers contributes a lot. If the business can negotiate and get favourable terms for pricing and delivery, it is possible to get dicounts on volme and reduce administrative overheads. 

SG&A Expenses Vs Operating Expenses

Both the expenses are related to each other but are not identical. Let us identify the differences between them.

  • The former is a part of the latter whereas the latter includes SG&A expenses and some other types of expenses too.
  • The former refers to cost directly or indicetly incurred in the daily business operations, but the latter is the total cost of running the business.
  • The former are typically related to selling, administrative or marketing functions but the latter include the cost of raw material, direct labor, manufacturing overhead or even distribution expenses.

However, both are equally important in any company. The management should continuously monitor and evaluate both of them so that none can lead reduce efficiency and take away the profitability levels or hinder the progress of the company.

This article has been a guide to what are SG&A Expenses. We explain with examples, a list, how to reduce, how to forecast & differences with operating expenses. You can learn more about Accounting from the following articles-