Company Secretary

Career as a Company Secretary is not only prestigious and financially rewarding but also carries with it a high degree of job satisfaction.

The Institute of Company Secretaries of India develops and regulates the profession of Company Secretaries in India.There are three stages to be pursued to qualify as a Company Secretary.
Foundation Course 5 Papers
Intermediate Course 8 Papers
Final Course 9 Papers

The Company Secretary Course is by Correspondence with provision for Optional Oral Coaching classes.
For Foundation Course the minimum qualification is 10+2 or equivalent in any stream except Fine Arts.
For Intermediate Course the minimum qualification is CS Foundation Pass or Graduation in any discipline, Arts/Science/ Commerce except Fine Arts.
The Final Examination is after passing the Intermediate Course.
16 months Management Training is to be undergone after passing the Inter/Final examination -or Practical experience.
The ICSI and its Regional Councils and Chapters offer Placement Services to Members and Students. A qualified Company Secretary has openings both in Employment and in Practice.

A Company Secretary is :
An expert in Company, Corporate and Securities Laws
A vital link between the company and its:
Board of Directors
Government and Regulatory Authorities
A conscience seeker of the company
A compliance officer of the company
Corporate Planner and Strategic Manager

A qualified company secretary has openings in Employment and as a Practising Independent Professional Company Secretary in Employment:
Companies with a paid up share capital of Rs.2 crores or more are compulsorily required to appoint a whole-time Company Secretary.
All companies seeking listing on Stock Exchange are required to appoint a whole-time company secretary.
Membership of the Institute is recognized for appointment to superior posts and services under Central Government.
Membership of the Institute is an essential qualification for recruitment from Grade I to Grade IV in the Accounts branch of the Indian Company Law Service.

Prospects for a CS with the boom in IT industry
A Company Secretary is a knowledge professional with a research bent of mind acquired through rigorous training in corporate laws and corporate management. The syllabus for the course also grills him in Information Systems and Systems Audit. As such. Company Secretaries are well versed in Information Technology as well as ITES. With his procedure orientation and mastery, Company Secretary is able to set up the EOU shop for IT and BPO industries cost efficiently. He is also well versed in foreign collaboration and joint venture agreements as well as intellectual property rights. This enables him to add value to IT or BPO subsidiaries of foreign companies in India as well as the takeover activities by Indian corporates in foreign countries in IT and ITES sectors. As knowledge professional well versed in Indian Laws, judicial decisions as well as laws of countries with which Indian IT and ITES industry deals. Knowledge Process Outsourcing is the industry of the future with a business volumes expected by India alone from US of the order of USD 12 billion over the next five years.

Company Secretaries willing to establish themselves in the IT sector should acquire knowledge and skills in intellectual property management for the IT companies who would move up the value chain. Technical skills in IT industry become outdated very fast. In this situation, Company Secretaries should also acquire continuous up-gradation in their knowledge and skills particularly in the skill-sets required for cross- cultural negotiations between India and the country of the collaborator or the customer of the IT company, both for vertical cross border integration as well as customer delight.

Opportunities abroad for CS
Many Company Secretaries are already working in various countries like the US, Canada, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Middle- east; Africa, etc. With their research and legal bent of mind, their employers have recognized their professional skill sets. They also possess managerial capabilities and analytical skills.

After the globalisation of services the field is opening in various countries for practicing Company Secretaries as well. India is entering into bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements with countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Mauritius etc. These agreements recognize Company Secretaries for free movement of professionals across borders. ICSI has entered into an MoU with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, UK. This MoU recognizes. Company Secretaries of both the countries in certain conditions. The process of globalisation and the process of comprehensive economic cooperation that India is initiating has also set in motion mutual recognition agreements between the ICSI and Institutes governing the profession in various other countries. This is opening up the world to Company Secretaries.

CS course going online (virtual classroom)
Today the education for Company Secretary course is through postal and oral coaching. This deprives students from semi- urban and rural areas of touch with expert faculties. In the web-based e-learning module, students will be able to learn about the subject at their desk top. They can, at their convenience, send their responses for evaluation and feedback by faculties. Faculties can give online suggestions for improvement. The virtual class room module would be launched by the end of this year. In this module students can attend classes at computer centres near their locations and interact live with the faculty on screen. This will create a hi-tech yet easy learning environment for students in all nooks and corners of the country.

Placement Services
The Institute is providing placement services to the members. As a part of the service, the Institute maintains a databank of the members registered for the placement and a list of suitable candidates is provided to the employers on request. The bio data of the members are also available on the website of the Institute for surfing by the prospective employers, who can shortlist the candidates suiting their requirements from the website itself. The vacancies for the post of Company Secretaries received in the Institute are also placed on the website for reference by the members seeking placement or change in employment. A placement folder is also maintained for reference by the members visiting the Institute for placement. The members can also upload their bio data directly on the website. Similar services are also provided by the Regional Councils and Chapters located in the various parts of the country.

It may also be mentioned that the members of the Institute are occupying prestigious positions such as Managing Director, Executive Director, and Vice President etc. Some of the members are occupying senior positions in the Government departments and regulatory bodies. There are ample opportunities for the member to go for practice independently.

Self-Employment Practice
After obtaining a 'Certificate of Practice' from the Institute, Members of the Institute can go in for Independent Practice.
Every company having a paid- up share capital of Rs. Ten Lakhs or more but less than Rs. Two Crores is required to engage the services of a Secretary in Whole-Time Practice for issue of Compliance Certificate.

Company Secretary as independent professional
A Company Secretary practice is recognized to issue certificates and attest documents under:
Companies Act, 1956
SEBT Act, SCRA and regulations etc. made there under Depositories Act
Exim Policy

Company Secretaries in Practice also render the following Services:
- Legal, Secretarial and Corporate Governance
- Corporate Restructuring
- Foreign Collaborations and Joint Ventures
- Arbitration and Conciliation
- Financial Management
- Project Planning
- Capital Market and Investor Relations
- Due Diligence
- Corporate Advisory Services

- After qualifying the Final examination and on completion of training as provided under the regulations, a candidate is admitted as an Associate Member of the Institute and can use the letters "ACS" after his/ her name.

Further Academic Pursuits
The CS Course is recognized by the various Universities for admission to PhD Course appointment of Lecturers utilisation of services of members by various professional educational bodies for academic activities. ICSI conducts Post Membership Qualification (PMQ) Course in Corporate Governance for its members.

For Further details log on to (The author "Amita Ahuja"  is Director (PR), Institute of Company Secretaries of India) ENews