What is a company secretary?

The short answer to what is a corporate secretary is: an official on the board of a company who deals with financial and legal issues – but there is much more to the role than that. A good company secretary can add considerable value to a company and plays an important role in ensuring a company is not only operating legally but also well-run.

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 and are able to advise accordingly.

Typical tasks include:

  • Advising the board and executives on corporate governance and accepted good governance practice;
  • Contributing to meeting discussions as and when required and advising directors of the legal, governance, accounting and tax implications of proposed policies;
  • Monitoring changes to relevant legislation and the regulatory environment and taking appropriate action. This includes giving advice on the Data Protection Act, Bribery Act and Companies Act, to mention just a few;
  • Liaising with external regulators and advisers such as lawyers and auditors;
  • Dealing with correspondence, collating information and writing reports, ensuring decisions made are communicated to the relevant company stakeholders;
  • 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.