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Company secretaries are responsible for ensuring that an organisation complies with standard financial and legal practice and maintains high standards of corporate governance.
Although they are not strictly required to provide legal advice, company secretaries must have a thorough understanding of the laws that affect their areas of work.
Company secretaries hold a strategic position at the heart of governance operations within an organisation and act as a point of communication between the board of directors and company shareholders, reporting in a timely and accurate manner on company procedures and developments.
They can also provide an important link between the board of directors and an organisation's executive management.
Public limited companies are legally required to employ a company secretary and many private companies also have the role. Positions can be found across all sectors, in the public and not-for-profit sectors in particular.
Alternative job titles may include 'head of governance' or 'head of democratic services'.
Company secretaries work in and around the board, usually reporting to the chairman. This provides the opportunity to offer advice and guidance on matters of law and governance at the very top of organisations.
The role covers a range of functions, and specific tasks vary depending on the type and size of the company. However, typical activities include:
The work of a company secretary in a publicly listed company will be more specialised than in a smaller private company. For example, the liaison role with shareholders and compliance responsibilities may make up a major part of the work and can include:
In small businesses, other duties commonly undertaken by company secretaries include:
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