With promising economic indicators, the Indian economy seems to be on right track. Our GDP grew by 7.6% giving us reasons to cheer and look forward to an even higher growth trajectory for coming years. Government’s initiatives like ‘Startup India Standup India’ and efforts towards improving ease of doing business here have further improved the business sentiment with more and more people joining the entrepreneurial bandwagon.
This scenario has given rise to new companies, ventures, and start ups being set up thereby opening a whole lot of job opportunities for youngsters. While, it will be an exciting time for the next generation to dabble in newer career choices, there are very few career options which are evergreen and continue to command much respect in current setup.
The Company Secretaries (CS) course is one that tops the list. A qualified company secretary, can find good positions in both private as well as public sectors. You can also look for openings in stock exchanges, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Company Law Boards and various government departments.
Company Secretaries have the added advantage of setting up their own consultancy business after obtaining a certificate of practice. Companies with a paid-up share capital of Rs 10 lakh and more and less than Rs 5 crores are required to employ the services of practicing company secretaries for issuing corporate compliance certificates. Company secretaries have immense knowledge of a wide variety of subjects like secretarial audit, which was introduced by recently enacted Companies Act, 2013. It is a process to check compliances made by the Company under Corporate Law & other laws, rules, regulations, procedures etc. It is a mechanism to monitor compliance with the requirements of stated laws and processes. Periodically examination of work is necessary to point out errors & mistakes and to make a robust compliance mechanism system in an organization.
Company secretaries also have immense knowledge of a wide variety of subjects. In this context, they can also take up position of a lecturer or a visiting faculty in various academic establishments. The Company Secretaries are also academically involved in bringing out consultative papers in areas of Corporate Laws, Finance and Capital Markets etc and to act as a Think tank for Government , regulatory bodies and trade and industry .The Company Secretaries also provide consultancy of high order employing contemporary methods and practices and undertake corporate diagnostic studies ,field surveys and data base services .
A Company Secretary course is a three stage course i.e. Foundation, Executive and Professional. Students who have passed senior secondary (10 +2 or equivalent) examination of a board/university constituted by an India law or any examination recognised by the central government as equivalent are eligible to join the CS foundation programme. All graduates and post graduates (excluding fine arts) are exempted from the foundation programme and can directly seek registration to the executive programme stage of the CS course. After clearing the executive/professional programme, one needs to complete training in a company or under a practising CS for 1 or 2 or 3 years respectively depending on the stage of the programme .
Additionally, one has to undergo training with the Registrar of Companies, stock exchanges and specified regulators and 15 days compulsory Management Skills Orientation Programme (MSOP). After the Professional level and completing the training, one becomes eligible to be associate member of The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).
A company secretary is crucial for an organisation’s management and is recognised under the Companies Act 2013 as the Key Managerial Personnel ( KMP) . The work profile largely covers acting as a vital link between the company, the board of directors, shareholders, governmental and regulatory authorities. A company secretary is a compliance officer of the company as well as corporate planner and strategic manager. Apart from carrying out these functions a company secretary also looks after finance, accounts, legal, personnel and administrative functions. Company secretary is required to handle matters related to central/state sales tax, excise laws, labour laws and corporate law. A company secretary ensures that board procedures are both followed and regularly reviewed. A company secretary provides guidance to chairman and the directors on their responsibilities under various laws. As times have changed, these days a company secretary commands high position in the value chain and acts as conscience seeker of the company.
The scope of being company secretary is increasing year by year due to factors like expansion of corporate sector within and beyond the borders, emergence of new corporate entities like LLP’s and OCP’s, e-Governance, new Companies Bill and focus on corporate governance and CSR. The increased emphasis on corporate governance has further compelled the boards of the companies to develop systematic and procedural aspects to ensure statutory compliance and at the same time establish extended governance practices, thereby creating a demand for company secretaries.
The recent upheavals in the corporate world have shaken the confidence of shareholders. There is a greater demand for displaying corporate credibility and transparency by organisations in managing their internal affairs. There is also a need to retain the confidence of various stakeholders. The role of a company secretary is not only limited to providing support to the board of directors and managing administrative affairs of an organisation. However, the horizon of their roles and responsibilities has expanded exponentially.
Apart from their traditional tasks, company secretaries now have to take care of corporate governance and even legal matters of a company. As the position of a company secretary has steadily become critical to the smooth functioning of a corporate entity so has the demand for this job profile has also steadily risen.
Challenges for a company secretary in the corporate world these days is to have an increased capacity to unlearn and relearn the laws as there new laws unleashing every movement and ICSI is into a aggressive capacity building of its members and students .
(Views expressed by the writer are personal)