Company Secretary plays an important role in corporate governance – be it private or public sector company or an NGO. The Company Secretary plays the role of a moderator between the company and the board of director and their shareholders, the government and other regulatory bodies.
The Company Secretary makes sure that the board follows procedures in a timely manner. He/she also reviews and revises them and provides guidance and advice to the Directors and Chairman on how to exercise their responsibilities.
The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) is responsible for the development and regulation of the Company Secretary course and profession, and it stipulates that all companies with a paid up capital of Rs. 5 crores and above to appoint a full-time company secretary. ICSI defines the role of the company or chartered secretary as ‘a strategic position of considerable influence at the heart of governance operations within an organization.
Role of a Company Secretary
In reality, a Company Secretary ensures that the company’s activities adhere to all legal, ethical and regulatory requirements. A CS’s role encompasses the following duties:
- Advise the chairman and board of directors of their responsibilities for compliance with your industry’s rules and regulations.
- Ensure the efficient and effective working of the board of directors
- Make sure that all critical information is shared with all stakeholders – the board, senior management and non-executive directors.
- Shareholder relations – Creation of shareholder communication material and keep the board abreast of shareholder opinion
- Keep up with the latest regulatory and legislative developments to ensure proper compliance with process and system updates
- Day-to-day administrative functions like preparing board papers, writing minutes and agendas and upkeep of statutory books and other documentations
- Assistance with directors’ inductions and ongoing professional development
Steps to becoming a Company Secretary:
1. The first route to becoming a Company Secretary: Open to anyone, with a 10+2 qualification, people with a related degree or who are law or finance professionals may be exempt from some modules, out of the eight modules.
The Company Secretary course has three stages:
- Foundation Program
- Executive Program
- Professional Program
2. The second route: Open for students with a graduation degree, the course will be in two stages: Executive and Professional Programs. The Executive Program is open to graduates of any discipline except for Fine Arts, and the Professional Program is open only after clearing the Executive Program.
3. For both routes, students need to undergo practical training for 12-15 months sponsored by the Institute or under the guidance of a practising company secretary.
4. Upon clearing the Professional Examination and completing the training period, one is admitted as an Associate Member of the ICSI and prefix the term ACS aka Associate Company Secretary after their name.
5. Admissions to the course are open at any time of the year, and the examinations are held in June and December.
Career scope for a Company Secretary
The career scope for a Company Secretary is fast expanding today. Positions are available in private and public sector concerns and also with the Department of Company Affairs, stock exchanges, company law boards and government departments. You can even have your own practice, and there are opportunities available in countries abroad as well. Freshers can earn up to 3-5 lakh rupees per annum, as companies secretaries have become an essential part of any organisation.
Experience and accomplished Company Secretaries work in various roles like Chief Compliance Officer, Executive Director, Company Secretary, Vice President, Legal Officer Finance Officer, etc.
Large corporate houses offer attractive packages ranging from Rs. 25 lakhs to 1 crore per annum as Company Secretaries play important roles as decision makers in legal matters and more. Salary package always depends on a person’s capability, experience and skills and can vary from one sector to another.
It would be advisable to enrol for Company Secretary coaching classes from reputed institutes if you desire to pursue a career as a Company Secretary.