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April 22

How to become a Company Secretary (and why?)

Legal Career Tips

Mary Bonsor

Mary Bonsor

Company Secretary on a laptop, with a pen and notepad

The role of the Company Secretary is on the rise. As a route for those interested in businesses and how they operate, it offers the perfect alternative if you are on the look-out for a career outside of the law. But what is a Company Secretary? Who can follow this career path? And how can you become one through Flex Legal?

What is a Company Secretary?

It's worth us starting off by saying that the title of 'Company Secretary' is in fact quite misleading. Many (myself included) have thought this role was perhaps more akin to an EA or PA. However, in reality it is actually more in line with the position of a parliamentary secretary. So much so that the Corporate Governance Institute is henceforth changing the name from Company Secretary to 'Governance Officer', in an attempt to remove any uncertainty.

When it comes to their main aims and objectives, they are designated as the key advisor to the Board Directors on matters of Corporate Governance. The specific responsibilities can vary dramatically depending on the size of the company, but can include:

  • Nurturing shareholder relations.
  • Preparing for Board meetings.
  • Monitoring relevant legislation and regulations.
  • Supporting the chair with the Board efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Taking on responsibilities for the HR department.
  • Overseeing the day-to-day administration of the company.

Although each and every Company Secretarial role is vastly different, it is certain that you will need to...

  1. Be flexible
  2. Have an ability to adapt to changing circumstances
  3. And display a willingness to 'get stuck in'.

The priorities of a Company Secretary are continuously changing dependent on the organisation's needs so it is also essential that you are confident in managing various different projects and stakeholders.

As the Company Secretary, you will report to the Chairman of the organisation, giving you an element of independence and control over your work; as opposed to a General Counsel who will report to the CEO or CFO.

When it comes to required skills, the key attributes needed are very similar to those that make a good lawyer:

  • A keen attention to detail.
  • Strong communication and presentation skills.
  • Incredible organisation.
  • Ability to influence and persuade.
  • Trusted with confidential information.

Why consider a career as a Company Secretary?

After spending the last few months speaking to over 120 talented Company Secretary's, I have found that there is one thing that they all have in common... their career story.

Despite being a role that is certainly on the rise, each and every individual we met found that they simply 'fell into' their career as a Company Secretary, very little prior knowledge about what this new position may entail.

However, it is worth us pointing out that there is also another thing that they all share in common... and that is their new-found love for this career path. One they have found to be incredibly rewarding, fulfilling and challenging, where no two days are the same.

How do you become a Company Secretary?

Unlike the process required to become a qualified lawyer, you do not need to qualify to become a Company Secretary.

However, the Corporate Governance Institute do recommend that you complete their qualifications to prepare for this career. Similar to the lengthy process of becoming a lawyer, these seven exams will also take a few years for you to complete:

  1. Company law
  2. Corporate governance
  3. Administration and compliance
  4. Finance
  5. Risk
  6. Boardroom dynamics
  7. Strategy

On average, the first four exams are seen as much harder than the final three, with a pass rate of around 40%; and for those who don't fancy waiting years to qualify, there is also the option to complete a Masters degree covering all the topics within one year.

Why become a Company Secretary?

  1. Skillset: If you already have the skills needed to become a lawyer, you are halfway there!
  2. Rising importance: Company Secretary teams are becoming increasingly important with organisations experiencing more and more issues with regulation and compliance, so there really is no better time to pursue this career path.
  3. Commercial awareness: As a Company Secretary, you will gain exposure to the C-suite at a very early stage in your career through board meetings and AGM's. This will help you to develop incredible commercial awareness, and give you an insight into the inner workings of your organisation.
  4. Career progression: If you enjoy corporate law and understanding how organisations run on a day-to-day basis, there really is no better career. And even better - there is no doubt that you will experience faster career progression than you would as a lawyer.
  5. Earning potential: If the first four points haven't persuaded you to the dark side of Company Secretarial work, then this last will. Highly sought after and integral to the organisation, as a Company Secretary you can expect a good salary throughout your career.

How to become a Company Secretary through Flex Legal

At Flex Legal, we are incredibly passionate about inspiring and enabling the legal workforce of the future.

With the rise of the Company Secretary, we are delighted to announce that we are launching a Company Secretary Apprenticeship Scheme: Flex Co-Sec.

Flex Co-Sec is an 18 month scheme, structured around an in-house secondment to an organisation. We locate the best and brightest aspiring talent, and embed you with forward-thinking legal teams as you complete the Level 4 Foundation Course of the CGI.

Each and every apprentice will be placed through our rigorous Readiness Programme before starting with your organisation, equipping you with the hard and soft workplace skills needed to succeed as a Company Secretary. Additionally, we will provide ongoing support, mentoring, training and networking throughout your placement to ensure your success.

Who we're looking for

We are on the lookout for talented, driven Business or Law Graduates, with an interest in corporate law and the day-to-day inner workings of a business. You will need an interest and curiosity for a career as a Company Secretary, with a positive attitude and a willingness to get stuck in.

Sound like the perfect opportunity? Click the link below for more details and to find out how to apply!