Business Law & Compliance

What Are The Duties Of A Company Secretary?

Luisa Ddakis | 31 August 2022 | 2 years ago

duties of a company secretary

Company secretaries are an important part of any business. They play a crucial role in supporting the board and ensuring that all administrative obligations are taken care of. Without a company secretary, it would be very difficult for many businesses to function properly as they would have no one to take care of the important tasks that they are responsible for.

But what are the day-to-day duties of a company secretary? And where do they fit in the overall structure of a company?

In this guide, we will provide you with everything you need to know about company secretaries, from what they do to how to become one yourself.

What is a Company Secretary?

A company secretary is a key position in a business. Along with the chairman, directors and shareholders, they are responsible for the management and governance of the company. The company secretary is usually someone with a legal or financial background, as they need to have a good understanding of the law and be able to manage complex financial documents.

Company secretaries are usually appointed by the board of directors. However, in some cases, the shareholders may appoint the company secretary. In either case, the company secretary is ultimately answerable to the board of directors who themselves are answerable to the shareholders. This setup means that everyone in the company is accountable to someone, which helps to keep things running smoothly.

What Does a Company Secretary Do?

The duties of a company secretary vary depending on the size and type of company they work for. However, there are some common tasks that all company secretaries are responsible for. These include:

  • Taking responsibility for a company’s administrative obligations
  • Supporting the chairman in overseeing the board
  • Facilitating communication between the board, upper management, non-executive directors and company committees
  • Connecting the board and shareholders
  • Ensuring legal requirements are being adhered to
  • Staying up to date with legal legislation
  • Being responsible for company records
  • Being responsible for any company schemes
company secretary duties

Who Can be a Company Secretary?

The requirements to become a company secretary vary from country to country. In some countries, anyone can be appointed as a company secretary as long as they are over the age of 18. In other countries, there may be specific qualifications that need to be met to be eligible for the role.

In the UK, the requirements to become a company secretary are set out by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA). To be eligible for membership in the ICSA, you must have either:

  • A professional qualification from the ICSA
  • An accredited degree in company secretarial practice
  • A relevant postgraduate qualification
  • At least three years of experience working in a company secretarial role
There are also different types of company secretaries. For example, in the UK, there are two types of company secretaries:

  1. Chartered secretaries: These are qualified members of the ICSA who have met the requirements set out above.
  2. Associate members: These are people who work in a company secretarial role but do not meet the requirements to be a chartered company secretary.
While both are qualified to do the job, chartered secretaries are usually preferred by businesses as they have a more extensive understanding of company law and best practices.

Why Become a Company Secretary?

There are many reasons why you might want to become a company secretary.

Firstly, it is a highly respected position within any business. As a company secretary, you will be responsible for the governance of the company and will play a key role in its success. This can be a great way to build your career and progress within an organisation.

Secondly, it is a very challenging role that will require you to use all of your skills and knowledge on a daily basis. As a company secretary, you will need to have a good understanding of the law, finance and company administration. This means that you will always be learning new things and developing your skills.

Thirdly, it is a very rewarding role. Not only will you be contributing to the success of a business, but you will also be helping to protect the interests of shareholders and other stakeholders. This can be a very fulfilling role, knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of others.

Finally, it is a role that comes with a lot of responsibility. As a company secretary, you will be responsible for ensuring that the company complies with all legal and regulatory requirements. This can be a daunting task, but it is also one that comes with a great deal of satisfaction.

company secretary qualifications

How to Become a Company Secretary

If you are interested in becoming a company secretary in the UK, there are a few steps you will need to take.

First, you will need to meet the requirements set out by the ICSA (if you are not already a member). This includes having either a professional qualification from the ICSA, an accredited degree in company secretarial practice or a relevant postgraduate qualification. You will also need to have at least three years of experience working in a company secretarial role.

Once you have met the requirements, you can then apply to become a member of the ICSA. You will need to submit an application form, along with your CV and supporting documentation. Once your application has been reviewed, you will be invited to attend an interview.

If you are successful at the interview, you will then be able to register as a company secretary with the ICSA. This will allow you to start practising as a company secretary in the UK.

There are also a number of professional development courses that you can take to further your career as a company secretary. These courses will teach you about the latest developments in company law and will help you to keep up-to-date with best practices.

Different ICSA Membership Statuses

There are five different membership statuses that you can achieve as a company secretary: student status, affiliated membership status, graduate status, associate status, and fellowship status.

Student Status

You can achieve student status if you are currently studying for a professional qualification from the ICSA. This status allows you to use the designatory letters “ICS Student” after your name. Studying for the ICSA qualification can take up to four years, depending on which route you choose to take.

Affiliated Membership Status

You can achieve affiliated membership status if you have completed the initial four modules of the ICSA professional qualification. With this status, you can use the designatory letters “CG (Affiliated)” after your name.

Graduate Status

You can achieve graduate status if you have completed the ICSA professional qualification but do not have the necessary years of experience. With graduate status, you can use the designatory letters “ICS Grad” after your name.

Associate Status

You can achieve associate status if you have at least three years of relevant experience and have completed the ICSA professional qualification. With associate status, you can use the designatory letters “ACG” after your name.

Fellow Status

You can achieve fellow status if you have at least five years of relevant experience and have made a significant contribution to the profession. With fellow status, you can use the designatory letters “FCG” after your name. This is the highest level of membership that you can achieve with the ICSA.

What Difference Does Your Membership Status Make?

Your membership status with the ICSA will give you certain privileges and benefits.

For example, as you see above different memberships are allowed to use different designatory letters after their name. These letters show that you have been professionally recognised by the ICSA and that you have met the necessary requirements.

As a full member of the ICSA, you will also have access to a number of resources, including templates, toolkits, and guidance documents. You will also be able to join one of the many networking groups that the ICSA offers. These groups provide an opportunity for you to meet other company secretaries and share best practices.

The ICSA also offers its full members a range of insurance products that can provide you with financial protection in the event that something goes wrong in your professional life. These may include professional indemnity insurance, personal accident insurance, and income protection insurance.

promotion to company secretary

Can You be Promoted to Company Secretary From Within?

Yes, in many cases you can be promoted to company secretary from within.

If you are already working in a company secretarial role, then you will have a good understanding of the duties and responsibilities of the job. This means that you will be well-positioned to take on more responsibility if the opportunity arises.

In addition to the above qualifications and experience, to put yourself in contention for a promotion you will also need to demonstrate excellent organisational and communication skills. You will need to be able to work effectively with other members of the team and should have a good understanding of company law.

How to Make Yourself a Good Candidate for Promotion

If you are interested in becoming a company secretary, then there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of being promoted from within.

First, you should make sure that you are up-to-date with the latest developments in company law. You can do this by reading legal publications and attending relevant conferences and seminars.

Second, you should try to develop a good relationship with the current company secretary. This will give you a better understanding of the role and will also allow you to build up a network of contacts. If they have any say in who succeeds them, you will also be in a better position to be considered for the job.

Finally, you should try to develop a good understanding of the company’s business. This will allow you to provide valuable input when it comes to decision-making. It will also give you solid foundations and knowledge of the company’s compliance obligations and how they can be met.

Are there any Downsides to Being a Company Secretary?

Yes, as with any job, there are also some downsides to being a company secretary which you will need to consider before dedicating yourself to years of study and training.

One of the main downsides is the amount of responsibility that comes with the role. As a company secretary, you will be responsible for ensuring that the company complies with all legal and regulatory requirements. This can be a lot of pressure, especially if you are working for a large company.

Another downside is that the role can be quite challenging, both mentally and physically. You will need to be able to work long hours and deal with complex legal documents. This can be tough if you are not used to working in a high-pressure environment.

Finally, the role of the company secretary is not always well-paid. This is because it is often seen as an administrative role and not a senior management position. However, if you are able to progress to a more senior position, then you will be able to command a higher salary.

Despite the downsides, being a company secretary can be a very rewarding and challenging role. If you are up for the challenge, then it could be the perfect career for you.

company secretary with board of directors

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it – everything you need to know about the duties of a company secretary, how to become one and tips for success. The company secretary is a key role in a business but it is also one that comes with a lot of responsibility. If you think you have what it takes to succeed in this role, then start planning your route to becoming a company secretary. Get the right qualifications, build up your experience and make sure you are always up-to-date with the latest developments in company law. Then, when the opportunity arises, you will be in a great position to take on the role and make a success of it. Best of luck!

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