Introduction: The words Company Secretary is a senior position in a company and have no connection with secretarial work as is done by a personal assistant in corporations. The post of Company Secretary as a career option has endless possible rewards, financially as well as perquisites if a candidate finds the right corporation for employment and discharges the responsibilities effectively.
Basically a company secretary is responsible for handling all corporate matters so that the managing director or proprietor can concentrate on running and expanding the business.The history dates back to 1960 when the Company Law Board in India started a course of Company Secretaryship and the students were awarded a Government Diploma. As the number of students increased, the Institute of Company Secretaries of India was promoted by the government on 4th October 1968 in keeping with section 25 of the Companies Act 1956. This Institute has been converted since then into a statutory body since 1st January 1981 under the Companies Secretary Act 1980, in order to develop and regulate the profession of a Company Secretary.
Qualification required and study structure for becoming Company Secretary:
In the eighties only a graduate could qualify to study the Company Secretary course. Now a student can enroll in this prestigious Institute even after clearing the 12th academic year in Arts, Science or Commerce.
The Institute of Company Secretaries of India imparts the training by correspondence course and gives the student all the material required for the entire course at the time of registration. The Institute also provides Optional Oral Coaching Classes.
An undergraduate has to study three stages, viz. , the Foundation Program, the Executive Program and the Professional Program whereas a graduate only has to pass the Executive and Professional programs. The successful students then have to undergo training for a period of 15 months in any corporation sponsored by the Institute or alternatively work under an established employed Company Secretary.On successfully passing the three stages and completing the requisite training, the candidate is admitted as an Associate member of the ICSI and can put the initials ACS, i.e., Associate Company Secretary after his or her name.
Admission to the Company Secretary course is open throughout the year at any branch of the Institute in your own city or the closest branch. The examinations are held twice a year in June and December.The study syllabus is extensive and intensive. The Foundation Programme comprises of four papers, viz., English and Business Communication, Economics and Statistics, Financial Accounting and Elements of Business Laws and Management.
The Executive Program consists of six papers divided into two modules. The first module includes General and Commercial laws, Company Accounts, Cost and Management Accounting and Tax laws. The second module is comprised of Company Law, Economic and Labour Laws and Securities Laws and Compliances.
Company Secretary Exam:
The Professional Programme comprises of eight papers divided into four modules. The first one contains Company Secretarial Practice and Drafting, Appearances and Pleadings. Module two combines Financial, Treasury and Forex Management and Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency. The third module constitutes Strategic Management, Alliances and International Trade and Advanced Tax Laws and Practice. The fourth module entails the study of Due Diligence and Corporate Compliance Management and Governance, Business Ethics and Sustainability. A strict Code of Conduct defines the appropriate personal and professional conduct of a Company Secretary.
Professional Profile and Expectations
The entire course trains the Company Secretary to be the backbone of the organization. The capabilities and confidence to handle all the responsibilities of the organization, viz., being the dependable link between the Board of Directors, the shareholders and Government agencies are ingrained in the individual during the course.
The successful Company Secretary is one who can be an in-house legal expert as well as being an expert in corporate and security laws and in capital market and corporate governance. The Company Secretary of an organization is a responsible compliance officer and an effective corporate planner and strategic manager. The ideal Company Secretary is one who is a proactive chief advisor to the Board of Directors about the best practices to implement in different situations of corporate governance.
Role and Duties of Company Secretary:
Specific duties of the Company Secretary also depends upon the type of business the employing organization is involved in. The responsibilities of a Company Secretary in a commodity producing enterprise will be different from those of a Company Secretary of an airline.
Incorporation, formation, promotion, feasibility of amalgamation, reorganization and appointment of new employees in the management cadre, inter-corporate investments, procurement of loans and institutional finance, taxation, obtaining relevant licenses and permits, getting project approvals, ensuring adherence to requirements of government legislation like Monopolies and Restrictive trade practices act and the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act and other laws. The Company Secretary is also required to sign the annual returns of the organization as well as representing the organization when occasion so demands.
Some company Secretaries even have their own consulting business and are paid highly by private companies who are listed on the Stock Exchange but do not have a full time Company Secretary.
Company Secretary Salary:
In proportion to the increasing responsibilities of a Company Secretary, remuneration packages have been augmented too. Since there is no legal binding on the pay package of a Company Secretary, there is no limit to how well an organization rewards an efficient Company Secretary. The perquisites can range from giving personal transport and even a posh company flat.
Currently the number of Company Secretaries in India, self employed as well as those employed in organizations, has crossed sixteen thousand but the reforms and efforts at liberalization by the government has resulted in predictions that the demand will soon outweigh the availability of efficient Company Secretaries.Company Secretary as a Career Option