Being a company secretary

What is a company secretary?

The company secretary is a strategic position of considerable influence at the heart of governance operations within an organisation.

Governance describes the way that an organisation is directed and controlled, which includes a company's strategy and decision making, how it achieves its aims, and ensuring that all activities undertaken comply with legal, ethical and regulatory requirements.

Company secretaries have a broad skill set – corporate law, finance, governance, strategy and corporate secretarial practice – and they advise a company's board in these key areas, providing support to the Chair, CEO and non-executive directors.

By becoming a company secretary you will have:

  • access to a wide variety of different job roles across many sectors
  • a diversity of responsibilities
  • a fast-track to high-level roles, working with the board
  • the potential to earn six figure salaries
  • the opportunity to work overseas.


Where do company secretaries work?

Company secretaries work across all sectors in a range of different organisations – in private companies, the public sector (e.g. local government organisations, the NHS) and the not-for-profit sector (e.g. charities and professional bodies.)

Some work for professional services firms or run their own businesses as sole practitioners or small partnerships, providing a range of clients with company secretarial services for a fee.

What does a company secretary do?

The specific responsibilities of a company secretary vary depending upon the level of the job role, the size of the organisation and the sector in which it operates. However, responsibilities typically include:

  • Guiding the chair and board on their responsibilities under the rules and regulations to which they are subject and on how those responsibilities should be discharged (Cadbury 1992).
  • Supporting the chair in ensuring the board functions efficiently and effectively.
  • Ensuring good information flows within the board and its committees and between senior management and non-executive directors, as well as facilitating induction and assisting with professional development as required.
  • Maintaining good shareholder relations and keeping the board informed on shareholders' views.
  • Developing and overseeing the systems that ensure that the company complies with all applicable codes, in addition to its legal and statutory requirements.
  • Monitoring changes in relevant legislation and the regulatory environment and taking action accordingly.
  • Overseeing the day-to-day administration of the company, e.g. maintaining statutory books, including registers of members, directors and secretaries, organising board meetings and AGMs, preparing agendas and taking minutes.
  • Having responsibility for facilities, HR, insurance, investor relations, pension administration, premises and share registration (this only applies to some company secretaries).


What salary can a company secretary expect?

The salaries for governance professionals vary, as with many jobs, depending upon location, sector and the kind of organisation that you work for. Trainees in the UK and Ireland can expect to earn an average of £24,000-30,000 in the corporate sector and £20,000-26,000 in the public sector and not for profit organisations. This rises to anywhere between £80,000-300,000 for a qualified and experienced company secretary.

Many organisations will also offer study support, paying for exam and tuition fees and granting study time. To discover more about salaries for governance professionals in the UK, look at the annual surveys produced by the specialist recruitment companies. Search online for the latest salary and well-being surveys for governance professionals published by BWW RecruitmentThe Core PartnershipDMJ Recruitment and Hays Company Secretarial.

Could you be a company secretary?

We think a career as a company secretary is a great choice for anyone who:

  • Has an interest in or knowledge of company law and/or governance
  • Is able to influence colleagues at the highest levels
  • Has strong attention to detail
  • Can write clearly and concisely
  • Can take in and process large amounts of information
  • Is trustworthy, keeping confidential information confidential.

If this sounds like you then a career as a company secretary might be what you're looking for! Get individual advice from our friendly support team call +44 (0)20 7580 4741 or contact us

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