Governance leadership and the role of a company secretary

Building powerful partnerships with governance leaders is a vital part of being an audit leader. One of the most important and influential is with the guardian of corporate governance, the Company Secretary. Otherwise known as the Monitoring Officer or Charity Secretary (where charities are concerned).

In this piece, we explore governance leadership and the role of a company secretary – including the relationship company secretaries share with chief audit executives and the similarities that exist between both roles.

Thoughts from the following audit leaders feature throughout this content:

  • David Hill - CEO at SWAP IA Services (DH)
  • Chris Gunn, Company Secretary at SWAP IA Services (CG)
  • Joanne Mercer - Head of Internal Audit, Newcastle Building Society (JM)
  • Steve Stanbury - Director of Internal Audit, City, University of London (SS)
  • Malcolm Zack - Group Internal Audit Director at Element Materials Ltd (MZ)

The views expressed are those of the individuals and do not represent the organisations they work for.

This content is relevant to all sectors and, for simplicity sake, we shall use the term CoSec when referring to Company Secretary.

Governance leadership

The Institute of Directors describe a CoSec as: “the guardian of the company’s proper compliance with both the law and best practice.” Similarly, the role of the Monitoring Officer in local government covers compliance with law, regulation, policy, conduct, ethics and constitution.

To discharge their duties, they operate strategically at the very heart of an organisation with close relationships to the board, including its independent members.

It is critical that audit leaders develop a strong relationship with this key governance leader.

JM: “In terms of board responsibilities, particularly oversight and leadership of culture in the business, NEDs cannot do that alone. They can also be really supported by an effective and forward-thinking CoSec.”

SS: was keen to…