Company secretaries are responsible for updating companies about changes to statutory requirements and filing important reports before stipulated deadlines. With increasingly complex statutory guidelines in Singapore, companies should appoint a company secretary not merely to fulfil compliance guidelines but to perform expert secretarial services for the benefit of the company.
Appointing a Company Secretary in Singapore
ACRA requires that a company secretary must be appointed within the first 6 months of incorporation in Singapore. According to Section 171 of the Companies Act, the secretary must live primarily or only in Singapore, which includes Singapore citizens, Permanent Residents or Employment, Dependent or EntrePass holders.
Ensuring that the secretary has the knowledge and experience to act as company secretary is the duty of the directors – otherwise, ACRA will hold the directors responsible for lapses in secretarial duties such as the late filing of appropriate documents. In addition, sole directors of the company may not act or be simultaneously appointed as the company secretary.
While in Private Limited Companies, the role of the secretary can be taken up by any Singapore resident, it is still advisable to hire a professional and experienced company secretary to manage all compliance. On the other hand, public companies in Singapore have to be qualified as an accountant, lawyer, or member of the Singapore Association of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (SAICSA).
Companies should consider engaging a corporate service provider to appoint a company secretary to provide professional corporate secretarial services. Doing so complies with ACRA and equips the company with an experienced secretary to manage all necessary statutory requirements.
Responsibilities of Company Secretary
The company secretary is responsible for updating and filing important documents with ACRA, such as the particulars of directors, the appointment, resignation or death of company officers, or amendments to the company constitution. Every year, the secretary also files annual returns and taxes to both ACRA and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). A secretary is also in charge of applying for tax grants applicable to the company – a good secretary stays up to date with new benefits and can achieve maximum cost savings for the business.
Corporate secretarial services also involve preparing for board meetings and annual general meetings (AGM) by setting the meeting agenda, taking minutes, distributing financial reports, and advising the company on when to start audits for the AGM.
Some other duties of the secretary include:
- Updating the company’s books and registers
- Notifying the company about relevant changes to statutory guidelines
- Ensuring safe custody and proper usage of the company seal, if applicable
- Filing share allotments or transfers to ACRA
- Keeping track of shareholder register and movement of shareholders
- Maintaining relationships with shareholders
In short, the secretary takes on an administrative role to ensure that the company abides by statutory regulations and meets its deadlines, allowing the company to focus on its business goals and direction. With expert knowledge of legal and compliance guidelines, the company secretary is also valued for his or her advice on business strategies and decision-making.
Quality secretarial services are not just a part of compliance with Singapore’s statutes, they also will advantage your company greatly, creating cost-saving opportunities and sound and smart business strategies. Invest in trustworthy secretarial services to make an intelligent difference for your company today.