TMF Group sees company secretaries facing growing workload

Secretary

A recent survey of 76 jurisdictions by TMF Group, a provider of administrative support services, has found that only 25 per cent of jurisdictions require a company secretary by law. 

Yet the report, ‘Conquering the Complexity of Local and Global Compliance’, also found that 69 per cent of jurisdictions believe that company secretaries’ responsibilities are predicted to grow within the next five years.

“The volume of compliance regulations has become overwhelming,” says Ian Burrell, Head of Corporate Secretarial Services, TMF Group. “Consequently, the world of the company secretary has become increasingly specialist with a broad schism between the disciplines of governance and entity management.”

Even international regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Anti-Money Laundering regulations (AML) are further complicated by the variety of approaches local jurisdictions have chosen to implement these regulations and directives, explains Burrell.

“When a group of companies operates in a single jurisdiction this is not such a challenge, but with a multinational group there will be a variety of approaches to identify. It also means that the company secretary must understand the details of ownership and control throughout the group and across jurisdictions.”

The most difficult places to incorporate a company are often in Asia, states the report: 36 per cent of Asia-Pacific jurisdictions do not have straightforward incorporation procedures, compared to a figure of 24 per cent in EMEA and 21 per cent in the Americas.

The report notes that there has been a spate of supranational compliance initiatives designed to increase transparency. For instance, the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), where participating jurisdictions agree to share information about foreign nationals residing in their territory in exchange for information on their own citizens residing abroad.

The CRS has been taken up by 83 per cent of jurisdictions surveyed, finds the report. “However, it is initially surprising that the USA has not signed up, particularly given that this is the country that gave us FACTA. Nevertheless, the USA does comply to the extent it is prepared to,” says Burrell.

Whilst the initial rush to regulate following the financial crises is over, regulation will continue to change and evolve in the face of new threats and challenges, explains Burrell. “This year in the UK alone, we have seen continued threats and challenges including Brexit, the LIBOR reform, increasing cyber threats, and the Wates Report in response to the failure of large private companies.

“The need for robust and accurate global entity management has never been greater.”