Company secretary: job description
Company secretaries guide company directors about the day-to-day management of their organisations, including compliance with legal and statutory requirements. Employers of company secretaries include local and national government, charities, accountancies, banks/financial institutions, housing associations, law firms etc. Typical responsibilities of the job include:
- convening and servicing annual general meetings (AGM)/meetings (producing agendas, taking minutes; conveying decisions etc)
- providing support to committees and working parties such as the Board of Directors etc
- implementing procedural/administrative systems
- handling correspondence before and after meetings
- ensuring policies are kept current, are approved, and that company members are aware of their implications, eg legal
- writing reports
- collating information
- providing legal/financial advice during and outside of meetings.
Depending on where you work, other tasks can include:
- managing office space/premises
- administering pension schemes and share issues
- dealing with company/staff insurance policies
- managing contractual arrangements with suppliers/customers
- financial and HR administration
- maintaining current awareness about company law
- keeping a register of shareholders and liaising with them on behalf of the company.
Vacancies are advertised online, on the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) website, by careers services and in newspapers (particularly The Guardian and The Times). Applications should be made in direct response to advertised positions.
It is possible for both university graduates and school leavers to become company secretaries. Gaining a qualification with ICSA and becoming a chartered secretary is essential for those working in public limited companies, and strongly recommended for working in private companies. This takes two to three years to obtain via either part-time or full-time study at certain universities, or a distance learning course combined with supervised work-based experience.
Graduates who have studied a related subject such as business, management, law, accountancy or IT are usually exempt from up to two of the qualifying modules, and those who have already qualified and worked as an accountant, solicitor or barrister can apply for exemption from four or even six modules depending on length of experience.
School leavers can also become chartered company secretaries by studying for and completing all of the modules.
It is normally essential to have gained previous professional administrative or commercial work experience, such as in accounts, insurance or office management.
Candidates should possess diplomacy, meticulous attention to detail, good numerical, organisational and time management skills and a genuine interest in business. Excellent computing, secretarial, interpersonal, teamworking and written/verbal communication skills are also important.