A Corporate Secretary is a required position set forth by state corporation laws and is part of the ‘check and balance’ on board members and offers the board advice and support. While providing the company with advice on the state laws, they are also tasked with ensuring that board members maintain their fiduciary duties to shareholders.
One way they do this is by accurately recording and maintaining the minutes for the board meetings they usually set up. Corporate secretaries are responsible for ensuring that an adequate number of board meetings are held and that scheduling coincides with the availability of board members. They are required to comply with meeting notices and often are responsible for other logistical arrangements. This is just one of the basic tenets of the position and typically remains a constant between companies.
Corporate secretaries are essentially a compliance officer for board members, serving as a liaison between the board, officers, and shareholders while maintaining documents that are required to keep the board and company in compliance with regulations. They also direct the activities related to the annual meeting of shareholders and share transfers. As a note, while the corporate secretary does not need to be a lawyer, they need to have sufficient knowledge of corporate and securities law to ensure compliance, so a background in law can be helpful. They should also be as well-versed in the company’s business, understanding it thoroughly to be an effective corporate secretary.
Even though the role of the corporate secretary is dynamic and complex, varying slightly between companies, the basic function of the position can be boiled down to being responsible for providing support to the board, officers, and shareholders on business matters and the laws that apply to them. Whether it is setting up, facilitating, or creating the agenda of a board or annual shareholders meeting, a corporate secretary is an essential and mandatory part of a company’s structure in the modern world of business.