With over 100 years' experience, the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) is the leading qualifying body for company secretaries, senior administrators and corporate governance professionals.

ICSA offers a varied and challenging professional qualification for those wishing to work at a senior level in business, the not-for-profit or public sectors. Covering corporate governance, company law, financial accounting, strategic management and company secretarial practice, the ICSA International Qualifying Scheme provides candidates a wide range of organisational, regulatory and financial knowledge.

On qualification, and completion of relevant work experience, candidates are known as Chartered Secretaries and work in positions ranging from company secretaries in listed companies to local government accountants. Typical responsibilities include advising on:

  • Company, charity and public sector governance
  • board, shareholder and trustee meetings
  • property issues
  • compliance with legal, regulatory and listing requirements
  • the preparation of reports and circulars to shareholders / trustees
  • training and inducting non-executives / trustees
  • management of employee benefits such as pensions and employee share schemes
  • insurance issues
  • the negotiation of contracts
  • risk management
  • contact with regulatory and external bodies

Wherever they work, Chartered Secretaries possess the skills, vision and values to take their organisations forward.

The Professional Qualification:

The ICSA International Qualifying Scheme is unique in offering broad based, postgraduate training in corporate governance, law, finance, administration, company secretaryship and management. No other professional body in the business area offers the breadth of knowledge which the ICSA's qualification provides.

Part 1 consists of modules in: Corporate Law, Financial Accounting, Strategic and Operations Management and Management Accounting.

Part 2 consists of modules in: Corporate Governance, Corporate Secretaryship, Corporate Administration and Corporate Financial Management.

Graduates with related degrees such as Accountancy are eligible for exemptions from some Part 1 modules.

The qualification is usually studied part time while the candidate works in a relevant position. Candidates may study on their own using the ICSA Study Texts or they can opt for additional tuition from a college or university. Assessment is by three hour examination for each module.

Case Studies

  • Name: Billy French
  • Role: Deputy Company Secretary. SLP Engineering Limited
  • University: University of Hull
  • Degree: LLB Law

Billy French graduated from the University of Hull with a degree in law, before completing the Bar Vocational Course in London. He then spent 18 months in the Company Secretariat Department of Severn Trent Plc, before becoming the Deputy Company Secretary of an international engineering company.

I first came across the role of Company Secretary when studying company law at University. The huge variety of prospective employers and the variety of work available made the prospect of becoming a Chartered Secretary very attractive.

My current role really embodies how I see the Chartered Secretary's role - it affords real responsibility at an early stage and facilitates a ?hands on approach'. My day-to-day working life varies hugely. I have very little routine work and, with only a relatively small portfolio of companies to manage, so filing forms at Companies House is something I rarely have to do. Fundamentally my duties can be defined as risk awareness, management and resolution. For example, I have been involved in:

  • the formation of a joint venture company in the UK and subsidiary companies in Moscow and Iran;
  • liaising with insurance brokers for renewal of annual policies, claim handling and procurement of marine insurance;
  • reviewing and qualifying both standard form and bespoke offshore and onshore construction contracts;
  • drafting a variety of contracts, agreements, deeds, guarantees and warranties;
  • reviewing leases and licences;
  • statutory compliance and share issues and redemptions;
  • review and drafting of company procedures;
  • dealing with a variety of disputes both in and out of the courts.

I am currently also dealing with compulsory purchase orders and the purchase of freehold and leasehold land.

As the group has continued to grow I have been appointed as Company Secretary of two of the new subsidiaries. I also have significant exposure to the activities of the main operating company of the group and tend to collect responsibilities like there is no tomorrow.

My background in law has meant that there has been a strong legal flavour to the work I do. Most notable is my involvement in all disputes and litigation involving any group company. It is all very well having external lawyers representing you, but it is of fundamental importance to have someone inside the company who can liaise with personnel and external advisors alike.

Essential skills in my job are lateral thinking, tenacity, attention to detail, knowledge of how the company works, the ability to deal with people at all levels and the willingness to work as hard as it takes.

I studied for the ICSA exams by simply buying the study texts and working through them myself. Although not always easy when working full time and dealing with the other demands of life, the modularised nature allows each subject to be studied in a manageable chunk. There is no doubting the benefits to a company of having key personnel who have studied the ICSA Qualifying Scheme and I expect that these will become more important as I continue to develop with the company.

Application Procedure

To apply to study the ICSA Qualifying Scheme, download the application forms at or e-mail for a registration pack.

For further information, see the ICSA website at: