The role of company secretary continues to broaden, and the new financial year will bring a “host of new and ongoing challenges” for such professionals.
In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, Governance Institute general manager (policy and advocacy) Catherine Maxwell (pictured) said that the role of company secretary is broadening to the extent that it is even more integral to an organisation.
This trend was accelerated by the age of coronavirus, she noted, and co secs are now “front and centre” for organisations of all stripes.
Quoting from Governance Institute’s Accidental Company Secretary course, Ms Maxwell said: “The company secretary is increasingly seen as the organisation’s governance professional and plays an important part in supporting the effectiveness of the board, its committees and directors”.
This means, she explained, that the board will turn to the company secretary for guidance and information on a range of matters, ranging from the latest on how to hold an AGM in the current environment to best practice board papers.
Moreover, Ms Maxwell continued, demands have increased on co secs in the wake of the pandemic “as roles expanded, volumes of information grew, and deadlines for tasks such as setting up board meetings shortened”.
When asked about FY22, she said that the looming financial year is set to bring myriad hurdles for co secs.
“A significant matter that will occupy many company secretaries will be how their organisation can hold an AGM given legislation covering this area is still up in the air and there continue to be COVID-19 clusters and associated restrictions,” she outlined.
“Issues stemming from the path out of the pandemic – such as cybersecurity and access to data – continue to keep many company secretaries occupied.”
In order to better manage such issues, co secs will need to ensure they are up to date, well informed and seeking expert advice where necessary, Ms Maxwell detailed.
“The business and regulatory landscape is changing rapidly with so many twists and turns along the way and your senior managers will be turning to you for updates and advice,” she said.
“Company secretaries also have a key role to play in ensuring governance has a seat at the board room table. Advocate for matters you think matter to your organisation which will in turn best set it on a strong path in these uncertain times.”
Moreover, she added: “Build yourself a network of like-minded professionals you can use as a sounding board to test your thinking and learn how other organisations in your sector do things.
“An enquiring mind, resourcefulness and keeping across key developments are skills that will stand all company secretaries in good stead in their increasingly important role.”