Company or chartered secretaries are high-ranking professionals with a broad base of skills unique among the professions. Trained in law, finance, accounting, strategy and governance, chartered secretaries provide a focal point for independent advice and guidance on the conduct of business, governance and compliance. They are key players with the skills, vision and values to take their organisations and clients forward.
While the functions of a chartered secretary are essentially administrative, the specific responsibilities vary depending upon the level of the job role, the size of the organisation and the sector in which it operates.
- Providing comprehensive legal and administrative support and guidance to the board of directors.
- Advising on effective decision-making, legal and regulatory matters and risk management.
- Developing and managing strategies to ensure compliance with legal and statutory requirements.
- Liaising with board of directors, staff, customers, suppliers, media, auditors, lawyers and tax advisers.
- Executing important documentation on behalf of the company.
- Leading on issues essential to business performance such as negotiation of contracts, finance, accounting, insurance and property.
Travel: some mobility may be necessary with larger companies, which are also likely to require attendance at meetings away from the main base on occasions.
Working hours: regular extra hours but not weekends or shifts.
Location: mainly in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: possible to work on a freelance basis.
Chartered secretaries work in a number of different careers and across a variety of sectors including corporate, not-for-profit and charity.
Promotion to senior posts may take some years. Qualified and experienced staff may seek posts with more responsibility in other firms.
Salaries vary depending on employing organisation.
Company secretaries of public limited companies need to be members of a professional body such as the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA).
Specific degree subjects required
Entry is usually following professional training. It is however possible to register for ICSA foundation programmes without formal qualifications.
Although open to graduates in all subjects those listed below may be preferred and may offer some exemptions from the professional examinations. A good honours degree is helpful.
Other relevant degree subjects
- Public administration.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement. Although postgraduate study is not needed, professional qualifications are essential and may be undertaken in-service.
Trainees must complete a period of relevant on-the-job supervised work experience and pass the four-part examination of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA). Study for ICSA qualifications takes 4/5 years part-time. Degree holders are exempt from the first two parts. Graduates with relevant degrees may be able to qualify more quickly.
Skills and qualities
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- Excellent organisational and time management skills.
- Strength of character, integrity and professionalism.
- Discretion when handling confidential information.
- A keen eye for detail and good knowledge of company law.
- The ability to meet multiple deadlines.
- Good numerical ability.