What is a Company Secretary?
The Company Secretary is a strategic position of considerable influence at the heart of governance in organisations. The role therefore involves playing a key role in upholding the rules, practices and processes by which a company is directed and controlled. Company Secretaries can work in a range of sectors including the private, public sector and not-for-profit sectors. Their responsibilities include maintaining good shareholder relations, keeping the board informed of these views, taking charge of the day-to-day administration of the organisation, by keeping the statutory registers up-to-date, organising directors’ meetings as well as being a trusted advisor to the board on matters of governance and company law. Depending on your organisation, the company secretarial function may have a wider remit including insurance, pension and investor relations’ responsibilities.
Is the Company Secretarial route right for me?
The company secretary has a position of considerable influence and has a broad skill set across governance, strategy, corporate law and finance. The role will be particularly suitable to you if you have a strong interest in governance, are technically minded, have strong attention to detail and enjoy a varied workload. In addition, softer skills like emotional intelligence and relationship building are particularly important to foster trust and a culture of good governance. You may be particularly well placed if you have come from a law degree or business/accountancy background given the technical nature of the role.
As a specialist company secretarial recruiter, I am regularly instructed by candidates who range from being qualified or part-qualified company secretaries, qualified solicitors, trusts/company formation specialists, paralegals and law and business graduates.
How much can you earn?
The earning potential varies greatly and typically depends on the sector you are working in, the seniority of your role and individual qualifications. Salary bandings are generally split between those at trainee company secretary, company secretarial assistant, assistant company secretary, deputy company secretary and group company secretary level. Positions at entry level may typically fall between £20-£30k, often with financial assistance for study on offer. At the other end of the spectrum, a Group Company Secretary in a FTSE 250/100 organisation, may expect a six-figure salary, a five-figure bonus and a range of further financial incentives.
What is ICSA?
ICSA is short for The Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators; the professional body that trains, informs and represents governance professionals across all sectors. ICSA are the rough equivalent of The Law Society for solicitors or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales for accountants. For further information on the ICSA, please see their website - icsa.org.uk
How do you qualify as a Chartered Company Secretary?
The Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme (CSQS) or an accredited Post Graduate qualification accompanied by relevant work experience will enable you to qualify as a chartered secretary. You may be entitled to exemptions on the CSQS course if you have taken a law or finance degree or are already a qualified law professional. There are three levels of membership; GradICSA (which indicates that you have completed the academic stages of training), ACIS and FCIS. To be granted Associate membership (ACIS), you will need to have six years of relevant work experience, which can be reduced by up to three years if you have taken a university degree. For more detailed information on this, please see the Institute website – icsa.org.uk
My own route to qualification consisted of sitting the Graduate Diploma in Law and the Legal Practice Course. These examinations are also a typical route to qualifying as a solicitor. This gave me two exemptions on the CSQS course. Thereafter, I worked full-time, taking a module on a six monthly basis, eventually qualifying as a GradICSA company secretary. In light of my Management and French degree, which reduces the time to become chartered, along with prior experience of working as a company secretary, I am now eligible to apply for the ACIS qualification.
How can G2 Legal help?
G2 Legal has a specialist company secretarial division, headed by myself, Mark Chambers. I am a GradICSA qualified Company Secretary and previously worked as a Company Secretary in a range of FTSE organisations. As such, I can provide guidance on qualifying as a company secretary as well as the technical aspects of day-to-day company secretarial work.
Here at G2 Legal, we have a track record of placing company secretaries at all levels into professional services organisations, such as accountancy practices, law firms and specialist company secretarial providers. We can provide specific company secretarial guidance on drafting an effective CV, preparing for interview and sharing market knowledge.
So, if you are considering your career options or would like to discuss the market in general, please get in touch. In the meantime, please join the G2 Legal Company Secretary Group to keep track of industry news and current roles and follow us on Twitter/LinkedIn!