September 13, 2023
A company secretary in Singapore plays an essential part in every business operation. As a professional responsible for ensuring a company’s compliance with all its legal and regulatory requirements, the role of a company secretary is vital in maintaining the integrity and transparency of any Singapore-registered enterprise. That said, reliable company secretary services are non-negotiable when it comes to starting a company in one of Southeast Asia’s biggest economic centres.
The Companies Act governs the role of a company secretary. Specific qualifications and requirements must be met by anyone or considered by a business seeking a company secretary in Singapore. In this blog, we will explore the qualifications and requirements of a company secretary in Singapore.
To become a company Secretary in Singapore, certain qualifications and requirements must be met. These include:
To qualify as a company secretary in Singapore, certain requirements must be met. Firstly, the individual must be a local resident, which includes being a Singapore resident, permanent resident, dependant, or Employment Pass holder. Additionally, they should possess a good understanding of the Singapore Companies Act.
According to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), the company secretary should have one of the following qualifications:
- a minimum of three years of secretarial experience within the past five years before being appointed as a public company’s secretary;
- registration as a public accountant under the Accountants Act, Cap. 2;
- recognition as a qualified person under the Legal Profession Act, Cap. 161;
- membership in the Singapore Association of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators;
- membership in the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore;
- membership in the Institute of Company Accountants, Singapore; and
- membership in the Association of International Accountants (Singapore Branch).
These qualifications ensure that the company secretary is knowledgeable and capable of fulfilling their duties effectively.
Another recognised qualification is the Chartered Secretary (CS) qualification, awarded by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA). The CS qualification is recognised in Singapore and is a popular choice for those seeking to become a company secretary. The CS qualification provides candidates with a broad understanding of corporate governance, company law, and compliance. Candidates with the CS qualification may be well suited for the role of a company secretary as they have a comprehensive understanding of a company’s legal and regulatory requirements.
In addition to the qualifications mentioned earlier, other professional qualifications may be recognised by the relevant authorities in Singapore. These include the Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification awarded by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualification awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification.
Professional qualifications are an essential requirement for a company secretary in Singapore. However, as well as a recognised professional qualification, relevant experience is also crucial. A company secretary should have broad expertise, including corporate governance, company law, and compliance.
One way to gain relevant experience is by working in a corporate secretarial role. In such a role, a company secretary would provide advice on corporate governance matters, ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and maintain accurate and up-to-date company records. This experience provides a company secretary with an in-depth understanding of a company’s day-to-day operations and the legal and regulatory framework in which it operates.
In addition to work experience, other factors such as industry knowledge and a candidate’s ability to work under pressure are also essential. A company secretary must have a deep understanding of the industry in which their company operates and the specific legal and regulatory requirements that apply to their industry. They must also be able to work under pressure, as compliance deadlines can be tight, and the consequences of non-compliance can be severe.
Knowledge of Company Law and Regulations
A company secretary must have a comprehensive knowledge of company law and regulations to perform their duties effectively. The Companies Act is one of the primary areas of knowledge required for a company secretary. The Companies Act sets out the legal framework for companies in Singapore, including requirements for company registration, share capital, director and shareholder responsibilities, and company administration. A company secretary must have an in-depth understanding of the Companies Act to accurately advise the company’s board of directors and management.
In addition to the Companies Act, a company secretary must know other relevant legislation, such as the Securities and Futures Act and the Financial Advisers Act. These acts regulate the financial services industry in Singapore, including requirements for licensing and registration, disclosure requirements, and codes of conduct. A company secretary should be aware of the requirements of these acts to ensure the company complies with all relevant regulations.
The company secretary must also understand other regulations that may apply to the company. For example, data protection regulations such as the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) require companies to protect personal data and obtain consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal data. A company secretary must ensure compliance with these regulations to avoid legal or reputation risks.
Employment law is another area of knowledge required for a company secretary. This includes knowledge of the Employment Act, which sets out the minimum standards for employment in Singapore, including employment contracts, leave entitlements, and termination requirements. A company secretary should ensure that the company complies with employment law to protect the company’s and its employees’ interests.
Other Qualifications and Requirements of a Company Secretary in Singapore
Good Communication Skills
A company secretary must have excellent communication skills. This is because they must communicate with various stakeholders, including directors, shareholders, and regulators. A company secretary must be able to communicate complex legal and regulatory information clearly and concisely.
Attention to Detail
Attention to detail is essential for a company secretary. This is because they will maintain accurate and up-to-date company records, prepare board meeting agendas and minutes, and ensure that all legal and regulatory requirements are met. Any errors or omissions could seriously affect the company and its stakeholders.