The company secretary forms an important link between the board of directors and various other departments in the company and he also ensures good relations with the shareholders and the public. He does this by the maintenance of management information systems inside the company.
A company has to fulfil certain responsibilities which are required by law. This includes the safe-keeping of all financial records for a number of years, the management of most financial affairs and the storage of all important statements, as required by Company Law and the Registrar of Companies.
The company secretary is responsible for the creation and maintenance of information systems to be used in decision-making.
Most company secretaries are also responsible for the maintenance of the register of board members and other statutory books, payments of dividends and debenture interests, statutory returns, capital issues, control of the office and the general administration of the Companies Act.
The nature of the company secretary’s work and his responsibilities vary from company to company due to the difference in size, field of activity, company tradition and nature of each company.
The company secretary has to attend board meetings at which policy is determined. At these meetings he acts in close co-operation with the chairman of the meeting. He has to make important contributions to the discussions and he has to remind directors of the legal, financial and tax implications of their proposals. In his preparation for meetings, he may have to assemble and collate information and present this information in a logical form to enable the board of directors to make decisions. After the meetings the company secretary has to draft accurate minutes of the meeting and ensure that the board’s policies and decisions are implemented.
In many companies the company secretary also has the responsibility for accounting, staff control and public relations and handles the company’s contracts, agreements and insurances.
Schooling & School Subjects
The Institute of Industrial Studies’ (IBS) diploma can be accepted as an entrance requirement for the Chartered Institute of Secretaries (CIS) qualification of the SA Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators. The IBS programme offers a course in business related subjects for persons who did not complete standard 10 at a school. This diploma is accepted by the Institute as an equivalent of matric.
Although there are still many company secretaries working who did not receive any formal training in the field, most companies these days prefer people with a diploma or a degree as company secretaries.
Degree: For basic training as a company secretary a person can study a BA or a BCom degree in Law, Economy, Accountancy or any business course. A BAdmin. degree could also be considered.
Diploma: An N.Dip. in the following fields could be considered: Administrative Management, Business Administration, Accountancy, Cost and Management Accountancy, Management or any other business related course.
The SA Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators offers training specifically for company secretaries (CIS). The training takes place at universities of technology and FET colleges on a part-time or full-time basis, or by correspondence.
Registration at the SA Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators is compulsory after obtaining this qualification. The Institute also has an agreement with some universities where the BCom. degree gives admittance for membership after an exam in a number of subjects have been written. This qualification is internationally accepted and may be written after a person’ name next to other qualifications.
The Institute of Administration and Commerce of SA also offers training that a prospective company secretary can consider.
Many people start their career by studying for an appropriate degree and later, when employed, undertake the professional courses of the institutes.
The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA)
Riviera Road Office Park (Block C)
6 – 10 Riviera Road
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tel: (011) 551-4000