How do I become a certified Corporate Secretary in Singapore?
Corporate secretaries play a crucial role in ensuring the smooth operation of a company. They are responsible for managing the administrative and legal affairs of the company, maintaining compliance with regulations, and providing support to the board of directors. Becoming a certified corporate secretary in Singapore requires certain qualifications and skills. In this article, we will explore the steps you need to take to become a certified corporate secretary in Singapore.
1. Obtain a diploma or degree in law, business, or accounting
To become a certified corporate secretary in Singapore, you must have a diploma or degree in law, business, or accounting. This requirement ensures that individuals have a fundamental understanding of the legal and financial aspects of the corporate world. Some of the courses that you may study in these programs include business law, financial accounting, corporate governance, and company law.
- Attend an accredited course on corporate secretarial practice. In addition to obtaining a diploma or degree, you must also attend an accredited course on corporate secretarial practice. This course covers the practical aspects of corporate secretarial work, including the duties and responsibilities of a corporate secretary, how to maintain company records, and how to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. ACRA provides Fundamentals of Corporate Secretarial Practice (FCSP) courses.
- Pass the relevant professional examinations. After completing the accredited course on corporate secretarial practice, you will need to pass the relevant professional examinations. These exams test your knowledge and understanding of the legal and regulatory frameworks governing the corporate world in Singapore. Some of the exams that you may need to take include the Chartered Secretary Qualifying Scheme (CSQS) and the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) exams.
2. Gain Relevant Experience
After meeting the educational requirements to become a certified corporate secretary in Singapore, the next step is to gain relevant experience in the field. This experience is essential for developing the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in this career.
There are various ways to gain relevant experience as a corporate secretary in Singapore. Here are some of the most common options:
- Work as a trainee or junior corporate secretary. One way to gain experience as a corporate secretary is to work as a trainee or junior corporate secretary. This position allows you to learn from experienced professionals and gain hands-on experience in the field. You will be responsible for tasks such as maintaining company records, filing annual returns, and drafting minutes of meetings.
- Work in a related field. Another way to gain relevant experience is to work in a related field. For example, you could work in a law firm, accounting firm, or company secretarial services provider. This will allow you to gain exposure to the corporate world and develop skills that are transferable to the role of a corporate secretary.
- Volunteer for non-profit organizations. Volunteering for non-profit organizations can also provide valuable experience for aspiring corporate secretaries. Many non-profit organizations have governance structures that are similar to those of for-profit companies, and volunteering in such organizations can provide opportunities to learn about corporate governance, board management, and regulatory compliance.
- Attend seminars and workshops. Attending seminars and workshops on corporate governance, compliance, and company law can also help you gain relevant experience as a corporate secretary. These events provide opportunities to learn from experts in the field and network with other professionals.
3. Obtain Certification
To become a certified Corporate Secretary in Singapore, you need to obtain a certification from a recognized professional body. Some of the certifications that you can pursue include:
- Chartered Secretary (ACIS): This is a globally recognized certification offered by the ICSA. To obtain this certification, you need to pass the CSQS program and meet certain practical experience requirements. The ACIS certification is a mark of excellence for corporate secretaries who have demonstrated high levels of knowledge and professionalism.
- Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA): This certification is offered by the Singapore Institute of Accredited Tax Professionals (SIATP). It is suitable for corporate secretaries who want to specialize in tax compliance and planning.
- Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) Qualification: This is a professional accounting qualification that is recognized by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). It is suitable for corporate secretaries who want to specialize in accounting and financial reporting.
4. Register with ACRA
Once you have met the educational requirements and gained relevant experience, the next step to becoming a certified corporate secretary in Singapore is to register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). ACRA is the national regulator of business entities and public accountants in Singapore, and all corporate secretaries must be registered with ACRA.
Here’s what you need to know about registering with ACRA:
To be eligible to register as a corporate secretary with ACRA, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be a resident of Singapore
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must not have any disqualifications under the Companies Act or any other relevant legislation
To register with ACRA, you will need to submit the following documents:
- A completed application form
- A copy of your educational certificates
- A copy of your NRIC or passport
- A copy of your resume
- A copy of your ACRA-approved professional indemnity insurance policy
The registration process with ACRA is relatively straightforward. Once you have gathered all the required documents, you can submit your application online through the ACRA website. The application fee is $50, and the processing time is usually around 14 working days.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Requirements
As a registered corporate secretary, you will be required to complete a certain number of CPD hours each year to maintain your registration. The exact number of hours required varies depending on your level of experience and the type of work you do.
5. Job Responsibilities of a Corporate Secretary
- Maintaining the company’s records and minutes of meetings
- Ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and corporate governance standards
- Facilitating communication between the board of directors and shareholders
- Managing administrative tasks such as preparing agendas and managing correspondence
6. Career Prospects
The role of a corporate secretary is in high demand in Singapore, given the country’s status as a major financial centre. According to the Ministry of Manpower, the demand for corporate secretaries is expected to grow in the coming years. The average salary for a corporate secretary in Singapore is around S$60,000 to S$120,000 per year, depending on experience and qualifications.