How to Become a Company Secretary?

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How to Become a Company Secretary

We often visualise a ‘secretary’ as someone taking notes from the boss, obeying the orders of the top management and serving beverages to visitors. However, a Company Secretary beats this baseless perception by being recognised as key managerial personnel along with the CEO, CFO and the managing director. With companies aspiring to consolidate their position among the world’s leading economic and industrial firms, making a career as a Corporate Secretary is extremely lucrative. This blog will guide you through the important aspects of the question of how to become a Company Secretary in the exponentially growing marketplace.

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Who is a Company Secretary?

A Company Secretary (CS) is an in-house legal expert or a compliance officer employed to ensure the efficient administration of the company. They are experts in corporate and securities laws that regulate statutory and legal compliance and implementation of the decision of the authorities. Moreover, they act as a chief advisor to the board of directors suggesting ways to create financial reports, conducting business, developing corporate strategy, dealing with situations involving a conflict of interest, etc. In order to understand how to become a Company Secretary, it is essential to be familiar with their responsibilities in a company.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Company Secretary

A Company Secretary is a multidisciplinary profession rendering the following list of tasks:

  • A vital link between the company and its Board of Directors, government, shareholders and regulatory authorities.
  • Ensures that Board procedures are legally followed and regularly reviewed.
  • Advising the Board members on good governance practices and compliance of corporate governance norms.
  • Incorporate secretarial services within the office like promoting and incorporating of companies, maintenance of secretarial records and arranging board or general meetings.
The Multidisciplinary Profession of Company Secretary

Ultimate Guide on How to Become a Company Secretary

Once you have completed 10+2 or equivalent, you become eligible to undergo the following 3 stages to pursue a Company Secretary (CS) Course:

  1. Foundation Programme
  2. Executive Programme
  3. Professional Programme

However, students who wish to join the CS course after completing their graduation can skip the Foundation Programme. Want to know how to become a Company Secretary? Here is a complete list of subjects covered in various stages of a CS Course.

1. Foundation Programme (4 Papers)

  • Business Environment & Entrepreneurship
  • Business Economics
  • Business Management, Ethics, Laws and Communication
  • Fundamentals of Accounting and Auditing

2. Executive Programme (7 Papers)

MODULE 1

MODULE 2

  • Company Accounts and Auditing Practices
  • Industrial, Labour and General Laws
  • Capital Markets and Securities Laws

3. Professional Programme (9 Papers)

MODULE 1

  • Advanced Company Law and Practice
  • Corporate Restructuring, Valuation and Insolvency
  • Secretarial Audit, Due Diligence and Compliance Management

MODULE 2

  • Financial, Treasury and Forex Management
  • Ethics, Governance and Sustainability
  • Information Technology and Systems Audit

MODULE 3

  • Advanced Tax Laws and Practice
  • Drafting, Appearances and Pleadings
  • Electives (You can choose 1 out of 5 Subjects)
    • Banking Law and Practice
    • Insurance Law and Practice
    • Capital, Commodity and Money Market
    • Intellectual Business – Laws and Practices
    • Intellectual Property Rights – Law and Practice

Eligibility Criteria

There are three stages to clear for an aspiring company secretary candidate. The three stages include Foundation, Intermediate and Final. The eligibility criteria are mentioned below:

  • After completing class 12, students must take up the ICSI Foundation Course. The course is spread over a span of eight months. It is essential to qualify the course within three years of admission.
  • Once students complete the ICSI Foundation Course they can enrol in ICSI Intermediate Course. 
  • Once students have cleared the ICSI Intermediate course they are eligible to enrol in the last stage of the ICSI course which the final course. 
  • The next step is to undergo training. Students after completing the final level of the course should undergo short term training. 
  • The practical training acquired by training during the intermediate level and after the final level helps to obtain the Associate membership of ICAI. 
  • Once the successful training is complete of students, they are eligible to become Associate Company Secretary.
  • The main path of the career of a company secretary only begins after they are eligible as Associate Company Secretary. 

Cut Off Dates for CS Exam in India

The CS Exam is conducted by ICSI every year in December and June. Candidates aim to become Company Secretary need to qualify the foundation as well as the executive level of this exam. Here are the tentative cutoff dates for CS exam December and June session every year.

Level December Exam Session June Exam Session
Foundation March 31 September 30
Executive February 28 (Both Modules)
May 31 (Single Module)
August 31 (Both Modules)
November 30 (Single Module)

CS Course Application Process

If you are wondering about the procedure of how to become a company secretary, then read about the list of documents needed to apply for a CS course:

  1. Latest Photographs
  2. Signature
  3. Secondary School Certificate or equivalent issued by CBSE or ICSE for proof of Date of Birth
  4. Consolidated marksheet of Higher Secondary Certificate exam or equivalent from CBSE or ICSE
  5. Roll number is given by the education board, if appearing for HSC or its CBSE/ICSE equivalent
  6. Copies of passing certificate with marksheet for BCom, MCom or CA students
  7. Medical Certificate
  8. Caste Certificate for SC/ST/OBC exemptions
  9. Aadhar Card, PAN Card, Valid Driving License or Passport

Exam Fee

Foundational Programme: 1200 INR
Executive Programme: 1200 INR per module
Professional Programme: 1200 INR per module

Admission to the CS course is open for students throughout the year and the examinations are held twice a year. The candidates are declared to have passed the 3 stages of the course if they secure a minimum 40% marks in each paper and 50% marks in the aggregate of all subjects in one sitting.

The Executive and Professional examination should be completed within the registration period. However, on payment of the requisite fees, the validity of the registration may be extended or renewed for a longer period in order to fulfil the applicable guidelines.

What is the Medium of Instruction for the CS Program?

ICSI (Institute of Company Secretaries of India) and other recognised authority governing CS programs in various countries use English as the main medium of instruction. However, with increased demand from the Central and State governments in India, importance is given to Hindi and other regional languages for the CS program.

Let’s see a list of practical experience and training programs to know about how to become a Company Secretary.

  1. Student Induction Programme (SIP): The students within 6 months of registration for the Executive Course are required to attend 7 days of SIP.
  2. Computer Training Program: 70 hours of Computer Training Program is required to seek enrolment to appear in the Executive Program examination.
  3. Executive Development Programme (EDP): The students can complete 8 days of EDP after completing the Executive Program examination at any time during the tenure of 15 months.
  4. Professional Development Programme (PDP): The students can complete 24 hours of PDP training after passing the Executive Program examination at any time during the tenure of 15 months
  5. 15 Months Training: After clearing the Executive Program examination and completion of 8 days EDP. 
  6. 3 months Training: For students who have cleared the Professional Program examination and are exempted from 12 months training program. Also, those who have completed 15 months training are relieved from 3 months training.
  7. Additional 15 days of training in a specialized agency such as Stock Exchange, Financial and Banking Institution, Registrar of Companies (ROC) and Management Consultancy Firms after passing the Professional Program examination and completing SIP, EDP and 15 months training.
  8. Management Skills Orientation Programme (MSOP): The students can go for MSOP for a period of 15 days after completing the Professional Programme, EDP and 15 months training.

Can a CS from India Work Abroad?

With an increasing level of globalisation, various countries are initiating the profession of Company Secretaries. India is prominently entering into a mutual agreement with countries like the UK, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and many more for free passage of CS professionals beyond borders.

The question of how to become a Company Secretary is best answered when you know the leading countries that offer courses for CS professionals to develop managerial capabilities and analytical skills. 

United Kingdom

ICSI has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA), UK. This memorandum recognises the Company Secretaries of both the countries with an aim to encourage greater contact between the two organisations and allow CS program to be more accessible. ICSA is known as the Chartered Governance Institute governing professionals in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Crown Dependencies, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and sub-Saharan Africa. 

Australia

Governance Institute of Australia offers comparable CS courses like ICSI where you may get membership of Chartered Secretary Australia and consequently the job of your choice. Company Secretary in Australia is known as a Governance Professional. In fact companies in Australia hire non-qualified candidates and also provide funding to gain the ICSA membership. 

Singapore

The Singapore Association of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (SAICSA) supports a system of training Chartered Secretaries. In fact, it is compulsory for each company in Singapore to appoint a Company Secretary within the first 6 months after the incorporation.

Benefits Of Becoming A Company Secretary

There are a few benefits of becoming a company secretary. They are mentioned below:

  • There is always a scope of enormous growth and increase in the remuneration
  • There is a growing demand in the market for company secretaries. More and more companies are looking to hire people at this post. 

Mentioned below are some important books aspiring company secretaries can refer to. They are:

  • Tax Laws and Practice By Sangeet Kedia
  • Company Law By Sangeet Kedia
  • Taxman Company Accounts and Auditing by NS Zad
  • Cost and Management Accounting by NS Zad
  • CS Executive Company Law by NS Zad
  • Economic and Commercial Laws by Tejpal Seth

With a potential growth in the field of professional courses offering higher salary packages, it is beneficial to know the key details of how to become a company secretary. You can reach out to our counsellors at Leverage Edu to know more about the scope of Company Secretary for Indian students abroad.

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