Definition of Selling General and Administrative SG&A Expenses Finance Glossary

define sg&a

This is the point where revenue generated and expenses incurred are the same. Then, sg&a meaning when trying to increase profits, SG&A can be reviewed to identify areas of bloat.

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They happen before the sale of a product, or throughout a sales cycle. Some of the general costs you’ll see in this category are advertising, marketing, travel costs, and salesperson salaries.

Recording SG&A in your accounting books

However, U.S. accounting standards treat R&D as a separate operating expense that’s not part of SG&A. Depreciation is typically reported as a separate line item within operating expenses, too. Both operating expenses and SG&A are key components of tracking net income, or what’s left over after subtracting expenses and taxes from revenue. A business has many expenses that are not directly related to making or selling a product.

  • When you have a good understanding of your SG&A, you can increase your profits over time.
  • Some companies refer to operating expenses as SG&A, or just G&A, while others treat G&A as one subcategory and give sales and marketing its own line, all under the heading of operating expenses.
  • Operating expenses are the sum of both SG&A and general and administrative expenses.
  • Cutting operating expenses can be less damaging to the core business.
  • No matter the name, it’s a measure of your company’s performance.
  • Program Costs means all necessary and incidental costs of providing program services.

Cost of goods sold is defined as the direct costs attributable to the production of the goods sold in a company. In many instances, SG&A expenses and operating expenses are one and the same. Both encompass the expenses necessary to operate a business independent of the costs to manufacture goods. Costs such as interest and taxes are not included in SG&A as they are deducted from operating income.


The profitability therefore increases as well, ofsetting those higher costs. A variable cost structure is one in which the SG&A costs keep pace with sales. Think of an importer that has only a warehouse and almost no other fixed expenses. It has just a 15% commission that it pays to independent road salesmen. That protects the business and its shareholders in a down market. When companies undergo mergers, SG&A is the first place they look to reduce redundancies. The combination of two companies results in many redundant operations and employees.

  • These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts.
  • In this sample income statement, you can see how SG&A expenses are deducted from revenues along with other expenses to yield profit.
  • Analyzing SG&A can help companies reduce overhead costs and increase profitability.
  • Learn more about financial ratios and how they help you understand financial statements.
  • SG&A are the operating expenses incurred to 1) promote, sell, and deliver a company’s products and services, and 2) manage the overall company.
  • SMBs might want to use the SG&A method to identify ways to save money.

Direct 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. Allocable Costs means costs allocable to a particular cost objective if the goods or services involved are chargeable or assignable to such cost objective in accordance with relative benefits received or other equitable relationship. Cost of Service includes every expense that directly relates to the service you provide.

Accounting Topics

They are the fixed costs incurred by the company like the rent, mortgages, and insurance that need to be paid. SG&A expense is a line item on the income statement, though sometimes sales and marketing expenses are reported separately from general and administrative expenses. Other costs classified as SG&A expenses include travel, entertainment and advertising expenses. Bad debt — the amount of accounts receivable estimated as uncollectible — is an SG&A expense, as well as professional fees such as those paid for legal and audit services. On the income statement, total revenue is shown and reduced by COGS to arrive at gross profit.

It was later revealed that ABC had artificially padded its earnings by selling the original Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning paintings it owned. The sales kept the figures up so the company could avoid cutting spending. Suppose that a bank invests heavily in its customer service experiences. It therefore has higher selling costs on its income sheet, but it also has higher sales.

Fast-rising SG&A costs make it more difficult to sustain profitability, so if a company projects SG&A cost increases will outstrip revenue growth it may decide to prioritize cost-control measures for the relevant business areas. Direct selling expenses are incurred when a unit of a product or service is sold. For example, once a product is sold, it must be packed and shipped.

define sg&a

At some point managers need to understand the statements and how you affect the numbers. Learn more about financial ratios and how they help you understand financial statements. For most companies, it’s better to manage for the long haul and to focus on increasing profitable sales and reducing costs . But if that’s your only focus, you’re probably only postponing the day of reckoning. The purchase of office supplies and office equipment under the threshold stated in company policy for noncapitalized equipment are SG&A costs, as are postage and printing costs. Dues paid for memberships to professional organizations and subscriptions to trade magazines and associations are SG&A costs. SG&A expense represents a company’s non-production costs in selling goods and running daily operations.

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