India is witnessing a phenomenal growth and expansion in the corporate sector resulting from its exposure to industrialisation. The growing demand for specialists in almost every sphere of the corporate functions has led to emergence of professionals who can perform specialized skills with near perfection in their respective fields. A company secretary is one such professional who is responsible for efficient management of the corporate sector. He co-ordinates and assists various departments of the organisation, ensures compliance of company legislations and advises directors on statutory requirements of the company. Apart from carrying out these functions he also looks after finance, accounts, legal, personnel and administrative functions.
Nature of Work
The rapid corporatisation which began in the wake of the liberalisation of the economy, has brought drastic changes in the role and profile of a company secretary. In essence, a company secretary is a specially designated officer whose duty is to ensure compliance of various legislations. By various enactments, he has been recognised as one of the principal officers of the company.
Company secretaries, with their multidisciplinary background and rigorous training attained in law, management and finance, are involved in major decisions such as formulating long and short term corporate policies and programmes, accounting and finance functions. For this reason, they are regarded as corporate development planners. Their other responsibilities include incorporation, manage public issues, act as internal legal advisor and representative, process intercorporate loans and investments, maintain company's records, take care of company's tax planning, tax management, tax returns, explore expansion opportunities, arrange collaborations, amalgamations, acquitions, joint ventures within and outside India etc. They are required to understand relevant aspects of laws, update themselves with the changes to ensure proper compliance of legislations. The job also involves arranging company meetings, collecting and compiling information and recording the decisions. They act as confidants of board of directors and provide a link between the management and shareholders. In many companies, company secretaries play an important role in legal and financial functions. Nowadays, they are even foraying in capital markets and financial services industry. Their assistance in administration, management, planning and general running of the company makes them the company's chief administrator.
Company secretaries have to be very disciplined and organised as they hold key positions. They are expected to have thorough knowledge and understanding of their subject as they may have to deal with complex legal situation. Excellent command over english, both written and oral is important. At the same time ability to understand, analyse complex and technical issues and exercise accordingly with tact and intelligence are other essentials. Associated with the top level management and being aware of top level plans and important secrets, it becomes a moral resposibility of company secretaries to be loyal to their organisation.
Institute of Company Secretaries of India is the only recognised organisation offering this course. The course consists of three stages.These are as follow.
- FOUNDATION: The institute offers foundation course for senior secondary(10+2) pass students willing to join Company Secretaryship Course. Earlier admission was open to only those candidates possessing minimum graduate degree.
- INTERMEDIATE: Students enrolled in the company secretaries course have to appear for the intermediate examination after successfully passing the foundation course. All gradutes, post-gradutes (excluding fine arts) and pass in the final examination of the ICWAI or ICAI or of any other accountancy Institution in India or abroad recognised by the Council of the Institute are exempted from passing the foundation examination and can directly enroll in the intermediate course on payment of such exemption fee.
- FINAL: On successfully completing the Intermediate Examination, students qualify to appear for the Final Examination which can be pursued after 18 months of enrolling in the course and having undergone satisfactory postal or oral tuition for a particular group of final examination.
One of the prescribed qualifications for a company secretary is the membership of the Institute of Company Secretaries. Candidates desiring for the membership of the institute are required to successfully clear the Foundation, Intermediate and the Final examinations conducted by the Institute. Further they are required to possess practical experience and undergo practical training to become eligible for the membership.
Colleges, Institutions and Universities
The Institute of Company Secretaries of India is a recognised professional body formed to develop and regulate the profession of Company Secretaries. It is the only institute which offers this course and awards the certificate bestowing the designation of Company Secretary to a candidate qualifying for membership of the institute. The institute has its headquaters at New Delhi and has four regional offices at Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai. In addition their are 36 chapters and 10 satellite chapters located all over the country.
Exposure to detailed study and practical training in various fields adds to versatility of a company secretary. A qualified company secretary is a competent enough to take up wide range of responsibilities in legal, secretarial, finance, accounts, personnel and administrative departments of companies or other organisations in the private and the public sector. Almost every kind of organisation whose affairs are controlled by boards or councils and other corporate structures be it a co-operative society, association, federation or statutory authority, finds it beneficial to appoint a qualified company secretary. Initially the career may begin with designation of a Junior Secretarial Officer. Depending upon the experience and hardwork it can rise upto senior level positions of Company Secretary and even Finance Advisor.