Become a successful Company Secretary.
With our help.
How to become a CS in India
What’s on this page:
But before we get into all this, do you want study material that will help you clear your CS Exams?
What is a Company Secretary?
A Company Secretary, Corporate Secretary or simply Secretary is a person responsible for the efficient administration within a company by ensuring all employees as well as the board is in compliance with statutory, regulatory and legal requirements. A CS is also responsible for ensuring all board decisions are being successfully implemented within the company. It is a Company Secretary’s job to oversee every employee – lower, middle and upper management operates within the law; keep and maintain company records, communicate with shareholders and directors, among other things. So, as you can see, it isn’t the easiest job in the world and requires special attention and training. The title ‘Company Secretary’ can often be misleading as the position is neither clerical nor secretarial. It lies more in the realm of law, legality and ethics.
What is the Scope of Work a Company Secretary?
A Company Secretary’s scope of work includes:
- Being a legal expert; a compliance officer and works only for that company.
- Being an expert in corporate laws, securities laws & capital market and corporate governance
- Being Chief Advisor to the board of directors on best practices in corporate governance
- Being responsible for all regulatory compliances of company
- Being the corporate planner and strategic manager for a company
Every field of work requires a CS and in that sense, it is a multidisciplinary career choice. You have options within options, some of which include:
Corporate Governance and Secretarial Services
- Corporate Governance Services
- Corporate Secretarial Services
- Secretarial/ Compliance Audit and certification Services
Corporate Laws Advisory and Representation Services
- Corporate Laws Advisory Services
- Representation Services
- Arbitration & Conciliation Services
Financial Market Services
- Public Issue, listing and Securities Management
- Takeover Code, Insider trading, Mergers & Amalgamation
- Securities Compliance and Certification Services
- Finance & Accounting Services
- Taxation Services
- International Trade & WTO Services
- General/ Strategic Management
- Corporate Communication and Public Relations
- Human Resources Management
- Information Technology
What is the ICSI?
The ICSI is the only government-recognized statutory body that works solely around the profession of Company Secretary. This includes its development, progress and regulation. The institute provides the best quality of education in the CS realm and has the most reputed faculty members in its academic family. Its main headquarters are located in Delhi and has four regional offices located in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. It also has branches in 70 other locations across India.
For more information about the ICSI, read our post on this topic.
What are the Stages of Becoming a Company Secretary?
As far as academics go, there are 3 stages to become a Company Secretary. The ICSI offers 3 courses:
- Foundation Programme (For those students who have only passed their 10+2/equivalent)
- Executive Programme (For students who wish to enroll immediately after their graduation)
- Professional Programme (Only for those students who have cleared the Executive Programme from ICSI)
Admission into the CS course is open all year long but the exams take place twice a year – once in June and once in December. Students need to log on to the ICSI website in order to register.
Let’s see how to register for each programme.
How to Register for CS Foundation
As mentioned earlier, the only criterion to enrol is that you should have passed your 10+2, or its equivalent from a government recognized Board of Education. Before heading to the main registration process, make sure you have the soft copies of all your documents. Here’s a handy checklist for candidates wishing to enrol online:
- Passport-size photograph
- Certificate of Birth OR (10th standard Pass Certificate)
- 12th standard Pass Certificate
- Consolidated Mark sheet
- Category Certificate (other than General)
- Government-issued ID – Aadhar card/Passport/Voter ID/Ration card
There is also a set of guidelines for you to follow to register successfully and without hassle:
The soft copies of all the files should in one of the following formats ONLY – .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif, .bmp or .pdf.
Once you have all these in place, it’s time to fill up the CS Foundation Registration Details. Log on to the ICSI website and click on the ‘Online Services’ section and then select ‘Register For CS Course’ from the drop-down options.
You will then be taken to a page containing instructions on what documents are needed to fill up the form. You must first verify that you have all the required documents by clicking all the check boxes in the page. Only then will you be able to proceed further in the registration process.
You can now move on to filling up the form. If you’re filling up the form for the first time, select the ‘New Registration’ option. If your registration process is incomplete, click on the ‘Incomplete Registration’ option and enter the Unique Number generated for you, followed by the verification code. Hold on to this Unique Number in case there is a problem while making your payment.
The form consists of:
- Basic Details
- Education Details
- Source of Information
- Document Details
- Form Preview
- Transaction ID
You can check the entire registration process in detail. Read our step-by-step blog.
How to Register for CS Executive Programme
The registration process for the Executive Programme is the same. The only addition is that you have to have your degree certificate along with the rest of your documents. Also, if you want more information about this, read our blog post on this topic.
How to Register for CS Professional Programme
The only prerequisite for enrolling in the Professional Programme at ICSI is that you should have passed your Executive exam.
There is no form-filling required for this step, since all your information is already in the ICSI system from when you registered for the Executive course.
Your first step is to log on to the ICSI website and click on ‘Online Services’. You can enter your Registration Number and create your own password.
Under the ‘Students’ option, click on ‘My Account’ followed by the ‘Payment Requests’ tab. Under this tab, you can choose the ‘Professional Registration’ option.
Once you have made your payment, you will be able to download your registration letter and ID card.
You can read more about the registration process here.
What are the ICSI Course Fees?
You can see the fee structure of all the courses offered by ICSI, in the table below:
|Particulars||Fees (INR)||Total Fees|
|Foundation Examination Exemption Fee||500||9,000|
|Education Fee for Executive Programme||6,500|
|Foundation Examination Exemption Fee||500||10,000|
|Education Fee for Executive Programme||7,500|
|For CPT pass of the ICAI & Foundation Pass of the ICAI-CMA|
|Foundation Examination Exemption Fee||4,000||12,500|
|Education Fee for Executive Programme||6,500|
|CS Foundation Pass Students|
|Registration and Education Fee||8,500||8,500|
|CS Professional Programme|
You can find out more about the fee structure in the document released by ICSI.
What is the Syllabus for the ICSI courses?
Foundation Programme Syllabus
The exam is informally known as the CS Foundation exam. ICSI is the conducting body. The exam is held over two days. There are four papers in the exam. Students are expected to write two papers in the first day and the other two in the second day. The exam is held twice yearly. Once in June and the other in December.
The exam is computer based. All papers are MCQ based. There is no negative marking.
There are four papers in the exam. The duration of each paper is 90 minutes. The table below shows the breakdown of each paper.
|1||Business Environment and Law
|Part A – Business Environment||40|
|Part B – Business Laws||60|
|2||Business Management, Ethics and Entrepreneurship||100|
|Part A – Business Management||40|
|Part B – Ethics||10|
|Part C – Business Communication||25|
|Part D – Entrepreneurship||25|
|Part A – Economics||80|
|Part B – Elementary Statistics||20|
|4||Fundamentals of Accounting and Auditing||100|
|Part A – Fundamentals of Accounting||70|
|Part B – Fundamentals of Auditing||30|
As this is a foundation course, the level of knowledge you are expected to show is “basic knowledge.” Note that basic doesn’t mean easy. It just means that it is basic as compared to the level of knowledge you are expected to possess in later levels.
You can find more information about this in our blog post titled “What is in the CS Foundation Exam?”
Executive Programme Syllabus (2 Modules)
This is the second part of the CS Course. The new and updated syllabus (from 2017 on) contains two modules of four papers each. Each paper is of 3 hours’ duration and the papers are as follows:
Paper 1: Jurisprudence, Interpretation & General Laws
Paper 2: Company Law
Paper 3: Setting up of Business Entities and Closure
Paper 4: Tax Laws
Paper 5: Corporate and Management Accounting
Paper 6: Securities Laws & Corporate Markets
Paper 7: Economic, Business and Commercial Law
Paper 8: Financial and Strategic Management
When registering, you will have to register for both modules of the exam. But when appearing for the exam, you can choose to appear for one or both modules. Due to the peculiar nature of the passing requirements (see below), we suggest that if you are well prepared, appear for both modules of the exam.
This is the final exam in the CS course. In the new updated syllabus (effective from 2017 on), there are 3 modules of 3 papers each. Each paper
Paper 1: Governance, Risk Management, Compliances and Ethics
Paper 2: Advance Tax Laws
Paper 3: Drafting, Pleadings and Appearances
Paper 1: Secretarial Audit, Compliance Management and Due Diligence
Paper 2: Corporate Restructuring, Insolvency, Liquidation & Winding-up
Paper 3: Resolution of Corporate Disputes, Non-Compliances & Remedies
Paper 1: Corporate Funding & Listings in Stock Exchanges
Paper 2: Multidisciplinary Case Studies (The examination for this paper will be open book examination)
Paper 3: (Electives) 1 paper out of 8
- Banking – Law & Practice
- Insurance– Law & Practice
- Intellectual Property Rights– Laws and Practices
- Forensic Audit
- Direct Tax Law & Practice
- Labour Laws & Practice
- Valuations & Business Modelling
- Insolvency – Law and Practice
If you are looking for resources pertaining to both the CS Executive and CS Professional exams, sign up on our platform for a free trial.
What are the exam dos and don’ts?
While taking any of the CS exams from ICSI, it is important to keep the following things in mind:
- All candidates require a physical copy of their Admit Card as well as a student ID card before entering the examination hall, and must produce it when asked.
- If for any reason, the candidate’s ID card does not have their photo, they must affix a new photograph and have it attested by a gazetted officer or a member of the ICSI board. A copy of the IDs will also be handed over to the Superintendent of Examination Centre.
- Banned items in examination hall include books, study material, electronics such as phones, Bluetooth devices, tablets, etc.
- Note that the candidates must appear in all the papers they’ve enrolled in. If you are absent for even one of the papers, it will be a ‘Fail’ in the overall examination.
What are the qualifying marks to pass?
For CS Foundation:
You should obtain a minimum of 40% marks in each appear and a minimum of 50% marks in the aggregate.
For CS Executive and CS Professional:
To understand the passing requirements, you should be aware that you can choose to appear for one or more modules of papers.
If you appear for a single module, the passing requirements are as follows:
- you obtain a minimum of 40% marks in each paper of the module and
- you obtain a minimum of 50% marks in the aggregate of all papers of the module taken together.
If you choose to appear for all module, the passing requirements are:
- you meet the minimum requirements to clear a module individually or
- you obtain a minimum of 40% marks in each paper of all the modules, and a minimum of 50% marks in the aggregate of all papers of all modules taken together.
For more information, you might want to look at the ICSI notification regarding this.
What Training has to be taken along with the CS Course from ICSI?
Along with doing your job academically, there are number of skills and training programmes that a student needs to undergo during their CS course at ICSI. These are as follows:
- Long Term Internship Programme or Practical or Articleship Training: This is a long term internship programme where you have to train under specified entities. The duration of the programme is of either one, two or three years depending on when the training commences. We will talk more about this later. You can also gain exemptions from this training depending on your work experience
- Management Skills Orientation Programme (MSOP): The ICSI MSOP is a 15-day programme to be taken after completion of all trainings/exemptions from
Check out our post on Practical Training during the CS course for more information.
What are a student’s career options as a Company Secretary?
As a CS, you have to possess the following qualities which will be taught to you during the duration of the course:
- A CS must be well-versed in all legal intricacies that an organisation/institution may require.
- Extensive knowledge of the best practices in corporate governance is a prerequisite.
- A CS is responsible for all regulatory compliances in an organisation.
- Planning and Management are also part of a Company Secretary’s job profile.
A Company Secretary can also expand his/her services into the following areas within the country and abroad:
- Corporate Restructuring
- Foreign Collaborations and Joint Ventures
- Arbitration and Conciliation
- Financial Management
- Project Planning
- Capital Market and Investor Relations
- Corporate Advisory Services
- SEBI Act
- EXIM Policy
If you wish to pursue higher studies in the field of CS, then teaching is also a viable and effective option. The CS course from ICSI is recognised by the various renowned universities across India and overseas, and if you’re looking for admission into a Ph.D course. It also provides utilisation of services of members by various professional/educational bodies for academic pursuits. The ICSI conducts a Post-Membership Qualification (PMQ) Course in Corporate Governance as well.
There are Company Secretaries working across the globe in countries like the US, Canada, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Middle-east, Africa, to name a few. With their research and legal skills and expertise, they’ve managed to attain jobs in some of the best known corporations in the world.
On the socio-economic front, India is entering into bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements with countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Mauritius etc. These agreements recognise Company Secretaries and allow them free movement across borders.
The ICSI has an existing MoU with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, UK. This MoU recognises Company Secretaries of both the countries on certain conditions. And thanks to initiatives such as these, the Company Secretary position has become very lucrative for Indians who wish to work abroad.
Does ICSI provide Placements for its Students?
The Headquarters and Regional Offices offer placement services to the Members of the Institute in the following manner:
- Names of candidates are sponsored to prospective employers on request
- Any members looking for a job may register online on the ICSI website
- Vacancies received from companies are also displayed on the institute website
- Campus Interviews are conducted to assist members for job and students for the long term training programmes
Campus Placements are also organised for young Company Secretaries looking for employment and students looking for training through Placement and Trainee Drives.
This just about covers all that you can expect and go through in order to become a successful Company Secretaries. Have you ever wondered who some of the most well-known Company Secretaries the world over are/were? Well, we’ll tell you!
- Dev Bajpai – HUL
- Jayesh Merchant – Asian Paints
- Sanker Parameswaran – ICICI Bank
- Ilam C Camboj – Hero Motorcorp
- Biswa Behari Chatterjee – ITC
- Sethuraman – Reliance
- Sanjay Dongre – HDFC
Wish to join this league of extraordinary gentlemen? You surely can. Get your degree and training and CS and work your way towards getting to the top. It’s not an easy journey but it is definitely one worth taking.
If you need help regarding any course at ICSI, do get in touch with us, and if you’re simply looking for a new approach to learning and studying, you can Sign Up with LearnCab and gain access to hours of HD quality video lectures by qualified CS professionals who have vast and exhaustive knowledge of the subject.
Through our video lectures (available for Foundation, Executive and Professional courses), there’s a new age of knowledge just waiting to be discovered. Unlock effective new learning and teaching methods such as online charts, diagrams and other such visual-aids. Challenge yourself through quizzes, notes, study material in the form of test papers, etc. In case of any doubts or concerns, reach out to any faculty member accessible to you via desktop or by downloading the LearnCab app.
Stay tuned to our blog for notifications on CS related topics. We’ll keep you posted on exams, admissions, syllabus and registration as and when we find out. Until then, work hard and aim high!