A company secretary is a professional whose role in a corporate set up is that of an advisor for legal matters. As per the Companies Act, a statutory requirement is that companies with a paid up share capital of a minimum of Rs.50 lakh are required to appoint a Company Secretary. Company Secretary is a very important member of the corporate management team. He/she assists the efficient management of a corporate body.
The skills and attributes required for a company secretary is such that he/she should be accountable 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.
The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) offers courses in Company Secretary. To become a professional company secretary in India, individual must pass the following examinations conducted by the ICSI. These are:
- The Foundation Course
- The Intermediate Course
- The Final Course
After successful completion of the above courses, the individual undergoes practical training to become a member of the Institute of the Company Secretaries of India after which he is considered as a Professional Member of the ICSI and is also issued a membership number.
The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) is constituted under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980 (Act No. 56 of 1980) to develop and regulate the profession of Company Secretaries in India. It was in 1960 that the Company Law Board started a course in company Secretaryship leading to the award of government Diploma in company Secretaryship.
As the number of students taking up the company Secretaryship course swelled, the government promoted on 4th October 1969, the Institute of Company Secretaries of India under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 for taking over from the government the conduct of company Secretaryship examination.
Since then the Institute of Company Secretaries of India has been converted into a statutory body with effect from 1st January 1981 under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980. It 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 headquarters at New Delhi and has four regional offices at Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai. In addition, there are 36 chapters and 10 satellite chapters located all over the country.
Pursuant to Section 383 A of the Company Act, 1956, companies having a paid-up share capital of Rs. 50 lakhs or more are statutorily required to appoint a company secretary. Also all companies seeking listing on stock exchange are required to have a full-time qualified 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 organizations 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 hard work it can rise up to senior level positions of Company Secretary and even Finance Advisor.
While a Company Secretary can aspire to get employment opportunities in government accounts or law departments, he/she can become a Chairman or Managing Director of a Company or be a part of the esteemed Board of Directors of a Company.
The salary of Company Secretary or Secretarial Officer depends upon his/her experience. The remuneration of a salaried CS professional in corporate sector is very high. The salary varies between Rs.25, 000 and 1.5 lakhs per annum. Individual with a CS qualification is treated the same with a person having MBA qualification in Finance. The CS professionals are also appointed as financial advisor in big companies.