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Postgrad corporate governance
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Beansonapost · 26/12/2017 23:23

Hi,

Just after some advice.

I'm looking for a career change of sorts. Currently a SAHM and I am considering retraining to become a company secretary.

I was wondering if a postgrad degree in corporate governance is better than a professional type qualification.

And if there's anyone out there working as a company secretary; what is it like? Would you recommend it?

I have an undergraduate honours degree in business management... I was considering accounting but I've done it and find it dull and mundane. Company secretary appeals to me because it seems more in line with what I would like to do, and seems to have less numbers involved. I did apply for law school and was accepted as I thought I'd do corporate law... but deferred and ended up living and working in China.

Anyway, just wanted to know which route would be better and what the profession is actually like as I'm fairly clueless and the internet seems very vague as well.

TIASmile.

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BarchesterFlowers · 26/12/2017 23:30

I finished CSQS last year at 49.

I am not strictly a co sec as I work in a government role but I am responsible for governance in my organisation. Also have CIPFA and another couple of chartered post grad qualifications.

I didn't consider anything else and sort of fell into it when I did one of their certification programmes.

I don't have anything to compare it to but I really enjoyed it and find it really useful on a daily basis.

What opportunities for work experience do you have?

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ceeveebee · 26/12/2017 23:44

I was/am an accountant and I took a slight career change a few years ago to become company secretary, working in a FTSE250 plc. I did CSQS and would definitely recommend that over a masters in governance - for one thing, the role is not just about governance, you also need company law, financials and practical skills. It took me about 3 years - could be done quicker but I took a break when I was on maternity leave.

I do really enjoy it, it’s really varied. I manage our board and committees agendas, papers and minutes, AGM, governance frameworks, risk management, insurance, share plans, coordinate our annual report, get involved in investor relations and a lot more. There is a lot of responsibility - it’s an important role and the repercussions of getting something wrong are huge so it can be fairly stressful

It was relatively easy for me to get a senior position as I was already working in Finance in the company - I am not sure how easy it would have been if I had to work my way up.

Let me know if you have any questions

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Beansonapost · 27/12/2017 12:32

@BarchesterFlowers @ceeveebee thank you both for the response.

@BarchesterFlowers I'm currently in Scotland and I have found there is an ICSA chapter that I will contact for some information and possible work experience. I'm not sure what else is available, unless I apply for full time work. Currently have two small children 2yrs old and a 9 month old. My plan is to get this going as a way to transition back into the working world, but I don't know how it can work without the relevant work experience attached to the qualification.


@ceeveebee It does sound right up my street. When I did my Bsc. I specifically chose management because it's what I wanted to do as opposed to pure accounting. I much prefer the general aspect of the profession and the fact that it allows me to be multi-faceted or on the surface it seems to not be limited to one single area, which is something I like. It does seem like the workload is huge, how does it balance with family life?

Is it only in London that there are job opportunities? At the moment we could afford to buy a house and commute but be mortgages up to the hilt... or we can live in Scotland or another city... buy a house and have no mortgage. DH is currently changing his career so we don't have many options for the next 3-5years... as we'd prefer to save. Most jobs seems to be down south though.

Is it very flexible as well? I know with accounting potential exists to work from home which makes managing logistics with two children seem a lot easier.

The places that offer the course also seem very limited DH is concerned it's not as international as an accountant with easily transferable skills. He's always been in professions that makes us travel/live all over the place... I don't think it's something I could do from a home office?


If I can think of anything else I will ask! Once again thank you @BarchesterFlowers & @ceeveebee Smile.

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BarchesterFlowers · 27/12/2017 13:04

Why don't you volunteer for a charity of some sort, could be any local charity, just a few hours a week, and do their Certificate in Charity Law and Governance. That way you will be gaining work experience and a short qualification. You can see whether it is for you. There is a bursary of 50% (£750) if your charity is small enough. Assuming that you don't need to earn money at this point (and I am not sure what sort of work experience you have already).

I left uni 30 years ago and had senior positions in the City but struggled to find something I wanted to do after I had DD (late 30s) because I didn't want to return to London and didn't fancy any of the local jobs on offer that required my qualifications.

I chose CIPFA (obviously I could do it anywhere). CIPFA could lead to auditing (which I did and really enjoyed, auditing governance systems, risk management/transfer methods as well as finance departments because of my previous experience).

I had IRM and Chartered Insurance Institute quals already but chose to do this after I did the Charity certificate (because I wanted to rather than anything else, my job hasn't changed and I did everything I do without it).

I remember deciding which direction I wanted to go in being so difficult (DD was 2 and DH's job took him all over the world which meant I wanted to be close to home) when I chose CIPFA.

Lots of compromises along the way but it did work for me. At 50 I have vowed never to do another professional exam again!

Do remember that an accountancy qualification does not have to mean 'accounting', there are lots of avenues, and if you decide that would be a better fit internationally then that could be a very good choice.

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ceeveebee · 27/12/2017 15:55

Hi - certainly most of the jobs are in London but also quite a lot in other major cities, I would think Edinburgh would have a lot of Financial services companies that would need lots of governance expertise

Volunteering is a good idea, charities and governing bodies in schools etc would all need company secretaries

Also all the big accounting and legal practices will have company secretary/governance departments, as smaller companies outsource some of this type of work, so you could try to get a job or some work experience in those departments

I work part time and can do a lot from home, obviously I need to be there for board and other meetings but it can be flexible.

Best of luck!

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Beansonapost · 02/01/2018 02:18

@BarchesterFlowers @ceeveebee

What institution would you recommend for doing the CSQS ?

I only see two on the company website, both their websites don't offer much information and costs.

Thanks once again. I'm still going over what to do in my head.

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RavingRoo · 02/01/2018 02:32

The cosec functions that I’m aware of, prefer to hire legal grads, accountancy grads, or experienced governance professionals in that order for entry routes. Global organisations tend to offer most of their entry routes in India as Indian universities offer a cosec degree course, and so if a UK analyst role does crop up there is a lot of competition.

Assistant cosec is usually a fairly senior role and that is where professional accreditation is prefered, but many global companies often just pay an existing analyst to do it with their promotion.

To be honest without experience I don’t think you can get a meaty role in the UK. The easiest experience to get is in governance and reporting (even if it’s just project management).

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Beansonapost · 02/01/2018 03:08

Without experience as a cosec?

I don't expect to be fresh out of a qualification and get a meaty role , I suspect this is something that will take years. As it is such an integral part of an organisation. Plus I'd go on the advice of the two ladies before... as it's not only big companies that need a cosec.

Plans are to either do a postgrad corporate governance msc while I work or just the professional qualification. With the intention to transition into full time employment when my children are both in school... this will take about 3-5 years. Everything takes time and I'm not kidding myself here I have 2 children I need something that will allow me to get back into full time employment but with a solid qualification... not just my previous work experience. The role interests me because it's seems multi dimensional and dynamic ( I could be wrong)

I do have other professional accreditation in accounting and another area. Most of my work experience has been in accounting and banking apart from teaching in China.

I don't know if I love accounting and so would prefer to do something I feel would give me greater satisfaction. Hence cosec.

@RavingRoo there are 4 universities listed on the ICSA website that offer post grad governance courses along with their professional accreditation. So not overly concerned about competition, that exists in every aspect of life Smile. Having an msc would make me more appealing should we move countries again, which is highly likely. So more scope to work.

I just want some ideas of how best to approach this.. as everything seems pretty vague. But will be contacting some of the organisations as the holidays are finally over.

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RavingRoo · 02/01/2018 09:30

Cosec experience isn’t as vital as recent blue chip work experience. But yeah good luck.

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Melbournegal · 02/01/2018 10:23

Also working in co sec here with an accounting background - ICAEW. I moved sideways into this field following maternity leave, moved within the same company. I had prior experience with working with an Audit Committee which helped.

I notice you said that you had accounting qualifications, would it be worth putting out some feelers through your network to see if you can gain some work experience in this area before taking the plunge on a postgrad course.

I would recommend co sec as a field, it's interesting and flexible and I have learned a lot from the boards I have worked with.

I'm not in the UK now so can't comment on specific institutions for your course sorry.

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ceeveebee · 02/01/2018 10:47

Hi Beans
I studied CSQS with Campbell’s College. Mostly distance learning with some face to face teaching (in London, one weekend per module). Found them to be pretty good and focussed on the main subject areas likely to come up in exams. I believe BPP also offer it but I haven’t used them.

Re entry level roles - I think people are generally more open to a diverse group of entrants than used to be the case, and I would personally rather have a trainee with a few years of experience under their belt then one who was straight out of university.

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Thisisbear · 16/07/2019 19:09

Hi @Beansonapost, i know this is an old thread. Did you make the switch in the end? Because i have a similar consideration.
I never studied law, was accepted but instead went to work qualify as accountant. Didnt work in financial management though and have been working in something totally unrelated the past decade and at a dead end. A career change however would mean pay cut and commitment to study etc for an unknown length of time...

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