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Company secretary: Job description

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Company secretaries are responsible for ensuring that an organisation complies with standard financial and legal practice and maintains 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.

They 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.

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 and in the public sector this role often has the title chartered secretary or simply secretary.

Typical work activities

A company secretary's role covers a wide variety of functions and these depend, in part, on the company for which they work. Typical tasks include:

  • organising, preparing agendas for and taking minutes of board meetings and annual general meetings (AGMs);
  • maintaining statutory books, including registers of members, directors and secretaries;
  • dealing with correspondence, collating information and writing reports, ensuring decisions made are communicated to the relevant company stakeholders;
  • contributing to meeting discussions as and when required, and advising members of the legal, governance, accounting and tax implications of proposed policies;
  • monitoring changes in relevant legislation and the regulatory environment and taking appropriate action;
  • liaising with external regulators and advisers, such as lawyers and auditors;
  • taking responsibility for the health and safety of employees and managing matters related to insurance and property;
  • developing and overseeing the systems that ensure the company complies with all applicable codes, in addition to its legal and statutory requirements.

The work of a company secretary in a registered company may 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 may include:

  • maintaining the register of shareholders and monitoring changes in share ownership of the company;
  • paying dividends and managing share option schemes;
  • taking a role in share issues, mergers and takeovers.

In small businesses, other duties commonly undertaken by company secretaries may include:

  • monitoring the administration of the company's pension scheme;
  • overseeing and renewing insurance cover for employees, equipment and premises;
  • entering into contractual agreements with suppliers and customers;
  • managing office space and property as well as dealing with personnel administration;
  • overseeing public relations and aspects of financial management.
Written by AGCAS editors
September 2013

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