Job descriptions and industry overviews

Company secretary: job description

23 Jun 2023, 10:00

Company secretaries are responsible for making sure that companies are meeting a range of legal requirements.

A company secretary using their laptop and making notes in a notepad.

Company secretary : Duties | Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Company secretaries advise company directors about how their organisations should be directed, managed and controlled. This is also known as corporate governance and it includes ensuring that the company complies with legal and regulatory requirements such as filing accounts, holding shareholders’ meetings and keeping company documents secure.

Company secretaries are different from general secretaries or administrative staff. By law, public companies must have a company secretary, and, while private companies aren’t required to appoint one, many do because they recognise the importance of employing someone who is responsible for making sure the company is meeting legal requirements.

Typical duties

Company secretaries are typically responsible for:

  • convening and providing administration for annual general meetings (AGMs): for example, producing agendas, taking minutes, conveying decisions and handling meeting correspondence.
  • providing legal, financial and/or strategic advice during and outside of meetings.
  • advising directors and members of the senior leadership team on corporate governance matters.
  • keeping up to date with regulatory or statutory changes and policies that might affect the organisation.
  • ensuring that policies are up to date and are approved.
  • communicating with external professionals involved in corporate governance, such as auditors.
  • in public companies, acting as a point of contact and building good relationships with shareholders.
  • implementing processes or systems to help ensure good management of the organisation or compliance with legislation.

In some organisations, the work of a company secretary is carried out by an existing member of staff (such as an office manager , for example) alongside other work. In addition, some organisations outsource their company secretary work (rather than employing a company secretary in-house) and so company secretaries can also be self-employed or work for an agency offering company secretariat services.

Graduate salaries

According to the Chartered Governance Institute UK and Ireland, salaries for trainee company secretaries start at around £24,000. Earnings rise with experience: company-secretary specialist recruitment organisations report that you could earn more than £100,000 at a large public company.

Typical employers of company secretaries

The following organisations typically hire company secretaries:

  • Public companies.
  • Public sector organisations such as local government.
  • Health organisations, such as NHS trusts.
  • Private companies.
  • Charities that are set up as companies.

Vacancies are advertised by industry professional bodies and by specialist recruitment agencies. You may also find trainee roles on careers services’ websites, and on local and national job sites.

Qualifications and training required

You can become a company secretary with either school leaver or degree-level qualifications. Entry-level company secretary vacancies, sometimes known as assistant or trainee roles, often require an undergraduate degree, but a few are open to school leavers and apprentices. Where a degree is requested, subjects related to law, finance and business are advantageous but not always essential. Another entry route for graduates is to undertake a graduate programme that includes corporate governance modules.

It’s also possible move into a company secretary role after working in finance (for example, as an auditor), law (for example, as a paralegal or solicitor) or in another area related to corporate governance (for example, as a risk manager or compliance officer).

Company secretaries for public companies need to have chartered accountancy, management accountancy or legal qualifications, have (typically) at least five years’ experience in a similar role or be a member of the Chartered Governance Institute UK and Ireland.

Key skills for company secretaries

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