The ever increasing focus on corporate governance is leading to a renewed recognition of the Company Secretary. Accordingly, the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) has published a report highlighting the importance of Company Secretaries and their role as the guardians and leaders of good governance for their organisation.
It was traditionally considered that the principal function of a Company Secretary was to ensure that board meetings ran smoothly, decisions were made and recorded properly, minutes were produced on time and that all laws and regulations were complied with.
The ICSA report indicates that the role is becoming much more than just administrative. A good Company Secretary will have a wider understanding of business and the economic context within their sector and have the ability to interact with major stakeholders, advisers and regulators in order to facilitate their organisation’s objectives.
The report describes how the contemporary Company Secretary aligns the interests of different parties and is the central information point for reporting requirements and corporate governance matters. The role is vital for getting information to the board, on time and presented in the preferred way and for the advice they offer alongside it.
The report concludes that there is a need to build independence, discretion and accountability into the role of Company Secretary. It is also considered that, in order to increase board efficiency, the Company Secretary should be a direct, primary reporting line to the chairman and is most effective as a standalone position.