Company secretary course and prospects
By Baiju Ramachandran
April 04 , 2010 : A Company Secretary is a professional like a Doctor, Engineer or Chartered Accountant.The major role of a Company Secretary is to ensure that whether the Company complies with all applicable laws and endeavours. A Company Secretary is also required to give expert advice to companies on matters of Company Law, FEMA, Corporate Tax and issue of shares. For that reason a Company Secretary is having a high esteem within and outside the organizations.
As per the Companies Act , a company with minimum paid up capital of Rs. 5 crores or more is required to appoint a whole time Company Secretary . The Company Secretary so appointed will be a noteable personnel in the company. The Company Secretary plays a vital role in announcing meetings of the board of directors and share holders and implementing decisions made in the meetings. Moreover , the Company Secretary acts as a vital link between the board of directors , shareholders and government and the general public.
In modern age, Company Secretary means a person having superior authority and act as a link in coordinating all the factors in an organization. Being a professional , all the members in an organization keeps an eye watch on him for his advices and suggestions .
Institute of Company Secretary
The Institute of Company Secretaries of India was established in the year 1980 under an act of Parliament. Before the Act, the institute was an organization established under Section 25 of the Companies Act . With the implementation of the Company Secretaries Act , 1960, the Institute became the ultimate authority to develop and regulate the profession. The Institute is headquartered in New Delhi with four regional offices in Delhi , Calcutta, Mumbai and Chennai.
The Institute also has more than 70 chapters in different cities . In Kerala, the chapter offices are at Trivandrum , Ernakulam, Trissur, Palakkad and Kozhikode. This institute conducts the company secretary exams in 3 stages – Foundation, Executive and Professional. The membership in the Institute (ACS) can be gained after passing the examination and completing the requisite practical training . The course can be pursued by non-graduates, employees, women and those who are pursuing other courses.
The content of the course
The examination conducted by the Institute should be passed to become a Company Secretary . A smart candidate can pass the examination within three years. The exams are conducted in three stages: (1) Foundation (2) Executive (3) Professional. A candidate with Plus Two or equal qualification can join the foundation course at any time. The candidates registered before March 31 can write the exams in December and those registering before September 30 can write the exams in June next year. Plus Two candidates can pursue the course by applying for temporary registration. But the exams should be passed within 6 months from the date of registration and the evidence should be provided to the Institute.The subjects are Business Law, Management, Accountancy and Economics. In order to pass the exam 40% marks in each subject and 50% aggregate should be obtained.
After completing the Foundation, the second stage ie; Executive Programme can be pursued. Graduates, non graduates and those who have completed the final of Chartered Accountant and Cost Accountant can register as a student at any time without writing foundation exam and minimum mark stipulations. But non Commerce graduates and post graduates will have to successfully complete the Foundation course subjects by oral or postal tuition. Candidates registered before 31st August 2010 and can write all the subjects of Executive Programme in June 2011. The subjects in this stage are General laws, Taxation, Accountancy, Company law, Economic Law and Labour law. After passing these exams, the candidate can pursue Professional programme. The requisite practical training insisted by the Institute should be completed along with this.
The question as to which is the professional course where the job opportunities are high. The answer is Company Secretary course. The Company Secretaries are in demand even during recession. The reason for this is the ever expanding companies and shortage of Company Secretaries. In India , there are about 10 lakh companies but the company secretaries are below 20000. This itself shows the job opportunity for company secretaries. Big corporates are offering lakhs of rupees as salary for candidates who have passed the course and completed requisite practical training .
The job opportunities for company secretaries are still very high . The company secretaries are considered in various superior designations in the central government. The Indian Bankers Association motivates the candidates who have passed the Company Secretaryship by promoting to office cadre in addition to increment. Moreover various central government and state government organizations are appointing company secretaries. Universities and educational institutions appoint company secretaries as professors and directors. In addition to the position as a Company Secretary, he also acts as a member of Director Board , Vice President or CEO in some companies.
Area of Practice
Candidates who have passed company secretary course can practise independently by obtaining certificate of practice from the institute . As per the Companies Act , a company with paid up capital of 10 lakhs to 5 crores is compulsorily required to conduct compliance audit every year by a practicing Company Secretary. Through this audit, the Company Secretary has to verify whether the company complies with all legal provisions or not. The documents to be filed by a company to the central government as per law are to be certified by a practising professional . Moreover a Company Secretary is considered as an expert in Foreign Exchange Laws, SEBI Laws, Labour laws, Pollution Control Laws, Banking, Insurance, International Laws, Corporate Taxation etc.
The practising area of the company secretaries will further strengthen with the passing of the Companies bill which is under consideration of the Parliament.
The prospectus with detailed information and application form is available at the Chapter office of the Institute. The fees for Foundation is Rs 3600, for Executive Programme Rs 6500 and for Professional Programme Rs 7500. The course fees should be sent with the application form in the form of Demand Draft favouring the “The Institute of Company Secretaries of India” payable at New Delhi. The candidates handing over the application form and demand draft at the Institute’s office or Chapter can obtain temporary registration and study materials immediately. 50% discount in fees is available for SC/ST and physically handicapped candidates. In Kerala the examination centres are at Trivandrum , Kochi and Kozhikode .
For further details visit: www.icsi.edu or contact Chapter office.
The author Baiju Ramachandran is a member of Institute of Company Secretaries of India and the former Chairman of Trivandrum Chapter.