What is a company secretary?


No, it’s not the kind of secretary you’re thinking of – someone who is responsible for managing administrative work in a company and looks after visitors. The type of company secretary that we are referring to is responsible for something else entirely.

Company secretaries are, simply put, individuals in senior positions in a private company, usually in a senior managerial position or above. They are responsible for ensuring that an organization complies with standard financial and legal regulations around running a company, and on the whole responsible for maintaining high standards of corporate governance within a company.

If you’re thinking about expanding your business, it is important for you to think about how you can best help your company function as an organization. This is where the role of the company secretary comes in, as an individual who will help ensure that your organization remains functional, and that the various stakeholders in your company are able to get the most out of their investment in your company.

Broadly speaking, in most jurisdictions, the company secretary owes duties to three groups of stakeholders – the company, the company directors, and the company shareholders.

These are, in brief:

Duties to the company

The company secretary ensures that the organization complies with the regulations set out in the respective pieces of legislation governing companies, in the respective jurisdiction in which the company is founded. In general, he is tasked with maintaining the high standards of corporate governance in a company, that is ideal for its functioning.

Duties to the shareholders

The company secretary is also responsible for communicating with shareholders and ensuring their interests are protected. He also is responsible for ensuring that shareholders are able to take part in the decision making process at a company’s Annual General Meeting, and does so by disseminating financial statements and any other relevant information needed for shareholders to come to an informed decision.

Duties to company directors

It is also their responsibility to register and communicate with shareholders, to ensure that dividends are paid. They also assist in the managing of company records, which include information like a list of directors and shareholders, and the annual accounts of a company. A company secretary often takes minutes at directors’ meeting as well.

Do note that these are the general requirements and expectations for such individuals. There may be additional specific scopes of duties depending on which jurisdiction you are in.

Relevant Legislation in the Asia Pacific

Singapore: Companies Act (Chapter 50)

Hong Kong: Companies Ordinance (Cap 622)

Australia: Corporations Act 2001

New Zealand: Companies Act 1993

United Kingdom: Companies Act 2006

These acts will generally set out issues such as who may be qualified to serve as a company secretary, whether a company must have a company secretary, the specific duties owed by the company secretary, and the potential penalties for contravening any of the regulations related to serving in this capacity.

The importance of this role in a company should not be overlooked. While the internal governance of a company may sound like one of the least exciting aspects of your business that you have to keep an eye on, it is undeniable that your company will not be able to function without it.

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The Strength in Strategy: How Important is the Need to Strategise?


By Evelyn Chow, Managing Director, DecodeHR Pte Ltd

In the course of our strategic HR consulting work with our clients, the inadvertent question of ‘What is the vision of your company and what is your strategic plan?” will emerge as we begin to think deeper about the client’s needs. Far too often, the overarching HR strategy is not developed to drive the overall organisational strategy. Consequently, this creates inherent challenges in the HR programs, policies and underlying infrastructure of the organisation. It’s almost akin to buying and preparing all the ingredients before deciding what dish or even type of cuisine to cook.

Sometimes, we are told there is a vision statement, but the client is not very sure what it is, and sometimes there isn’t a vision statement at all. And on a few occasions, the honest CEO will admit that they need one, but just haven’t gotten round to putting it together. Far from being disdainful, we know too well how easily one gets caught up with the daily challenges of selling and delivering, to pause and take time out for some strategic planning. Developing a strong strategy and keeping an eye on it to make mid-course corrections requires both discipline and keen insights on the developments within one’s immediate sector and the broader landscape.

I am heartened to see that the bent of strategy has moved away from the ‘classic strategy’ to ‘adaptive strategic’, as the Monitor Institute’s framework describes this very well. In the given conditions that we operate with, one has to be bold enough to experiment and roll out minimum viable products to test the market. It is also critical to be far-sighted enough to recognise trends and patterns of the market and not rely entirely on data to make decisions. I must admit that in a corporate and for-profit environment (Monitor Institute’s work is philanthropic in nature), I am not entirely convinced that it is possible to have the entire organisation experiment with new ideas. But certainly, it would be viable to have a select few people (read: passionate and energised) put up their hands to be responsible for generating and testing new ideas. In smaller set-ups, it is a luxury to be able to have a dedicated team focusing only on ‘lab work’ as it is popularly called these days.

If you would like to read more on the concept of adaptive strategy, this article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review outlines it very well, and you may want to look it up.

The ‘Cascade of Strategic Choices’ provides a really useful framework to guide our thinking. If your business is a for-profit organisation, think about what problems your company can solve today and how your products/services can make a difference. The rest really wholly applies.

Amidst the myriad of choices that we face in determining the direction of our business, clarity of thought is something we must pursue.

Time for that strategic planning retreat!

This article is a guest contribution by Evelyn Chow, Managing Director of DecodeHR. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About DecodeHR

DecodeHR provides strategic advice and high-impact solutions to clients primarily in Asia, specializing in the areas of Strategic HR Reviews, Competency Frameworks Development, Strategic Workforce Planning, Pre and Post Merger & Acquisition integration and Transformation projects.

Our strength is our deep knowledge of Singapore and Asia, and this is coupled with experience in the international arena. We distill the best global practices to bring to you practical solutions for maximum impact.

Have A Small Business? Don’t Fear The Internet – Let A WordPress CMS Help You!

Let’s start with the basics. Do you need a website? If you’re any business that is seeking more visibility and expanding their customer base, the answer will be a resounding, yes. Launching a website has become almost as important as starting any business these days. You’ll find entrepreneurs are building their website first and marketing their business before launching their business in the real world. Research has shown that as much as 90% of consumers search online before making any actual purchase. It’s never been more important for any businesses, especially small businesses to build a website and let everyone know about your mission and services.

Setting up and running a decent website was a massive undertaking only a few years ago. Skip to present day and the internet is flooded with low-cost hosting solutions (which store your website online) and easy-to-manage platforms like WordPress (which help build it). Together, cheap web hosting and the WordPress CMS has opened up the internet to make it more accessible to anyone, no matter the size of the business, internet know-how or budget.

Still not convinced? Setting up a WordPress powered website is becoming more like opening a Facebook account these days, with one click logins and install, app-style add ons the process will be more familiar than you think. Still, people fear this process, and find it more difficult than it actually is. You don’t need to see a line of code or know any special technical jargon to get yourself a pretty decent setup using hosted WordPress.

Why is WordPress the Best CMS for Small Businesses?

WordPress is the most popular content management system, and there’s no doubt about that. More than 60% of websites today are hosted on WordPress. WordPress offers perfect solutions for all business types and sizes. Given these statistics, you can consider yourself in good hands. Some huge and well-respected websites are using this platform. It’s flexible enough to create simple or seriously complex sites. What is even more surprising is that setting up a WordPress website doesn’t have to be expensive.

Grow Your Small Business with WordPress

WordPress comes in two flavors: hosted and self-hosted. Both versions have their advantages and disadvantages. Together they offer small businesses a powerful and user-friendly platform that can grow along with their needs and experience.

Let’s take a look at how this works:

  • Hosted Version: Selection of plugins, themes and templates to design a fully functioning website (for a price).
  • Self-Hosted WordPress: Complete freedom with access to unlimited free and premium themes and plugins (add-ons) with a slight learning curve (free to use).

Unless your business depends on on-site sales for its income (in which case, self-hosted is the one for you), your website will likely serve as a marketing tool and not require much beyond the out-of-the-box hosted WordPress functionality. Many small businesses keep their website on the hosted version of WordPress forever. This can be perfectly adequate to meet most needs.

Related reading: 7 Online Marketing Tips For Your Small Business

For a small business looking for a no-nonsense way to launch a website, the hosted version of WordPress is an excellent choice. You have the peace-of-mind that a trusted partner (the WordPress team) is managing the technical end of their website (security, updates, maintenance). It’s handy to have the technical end of your website managed by someone else – all the headaches of maintaining your own website are taken care and you can concentrate on the creative/ business side of things.

If hosted WordPress becomes too restrictive, then you can switch over to the self-hosted version. It’s available for free, but you need to arrange a host and install the software yourself. To make installation as easy as possible, most web hosting companies offer 1-click installation tools that make installing a self-hosted version of WordPress just as easy as it is over at wordpress.com.

Yes, WordPress is the bee’s knees, and we haven’t gotten down to why it is the best site builder for small business.

What Can WordPress do For Me?

WordPress’ interface is the height of user-friendly. There is no need to be a professional Web designer to make simple updates on a WordPress website. ,Adding new pages, posts, and images are easy and take only a few seconds. WordPress’ user interface is highly intuitive. Ease of use means less time spent learning to use the software, saving you valuable time you could be using to run your business.

In addition to being free, user-friendly and providing with user support, WordPress websites come with the following benefits:

  • Choice of Themes and Add-Ons to give your site a professional look which is user-friendly and fitting tothe style of business.
  • The platform was design with SEO so your website should have no issues appearing in search engines (so people can find you)
  • Responsive – Most themes will work well on all mobile devices (this is essential since more web browsers than ever are using mobile phones and tablets to access web pages).

Closing Remarks

For the majority of small business owners, it is quite daunting to take care of a business website on top of their regular duties. The thought of getting a website set up might seem like a pipe dream. It can look like a distant dream/ nightmare as having an online presence can come with costs, time and effort which some small businesses just can’t afford. The obvious solution to all these concerns is WordPress.You will be not only able to manage business your website but also have complete freedom to enhance the look & feel of the interface without the need to hire a separate developer.

Hopefully this blog post has taken away some of your fears and inspired you to consider WordPress for your business website. Being successful in business means taking bold steps, and making decisions to drive your success. I’d encourage you not to overthink the ‘trappings’ of creating a website. Just install WordPress and see how easy it can be to set up your site using WordPress’ impressive features. 15 minutes from now, you could have your own website!

This a guest post by Bobby Pham of Namecheap. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

Author Bio

Bobby Pham is part of the Content Management Team at Namecheap. He specializes in promoting WordPress as well as general tips on getting online. The tips, explanations, tutorials, and articles he provides will help individuals build the online presence they want.

How to Master E-commerce at a Local Level


Mastering local e-commerce is the first step towards attaining success as a business. But there are processes that are critical to local e-commerce success. Most of these are little things that many businesses ignore. Effectively positioning a brand in the local market is the first step to attaining real success in e-commerce.

Lee Nagel, the VP of marketing at Izenda and the leader of operations and marketing execution, recently offered advice to small businesses and established ones that are looking to embrace a more efficient strategy. He spoke with me and shared some useful tips to help businesses master e-commerce at the local level as they look to expand into broader markets.

Cultivate local reviews

Running a local business on the internet is no easy task if you fail to establish credibility with customers online. One of the ways your e-commerce business can capture the local market is cultivating local reviews so when someone from your region searches for products to meet their needs they see relevant information that points to your business. According to research, people will trust your business more when the reviews they read about it are from friends or people from their vicinity they can relate to, so ensuring your e-commerce business establishes its local presence calls for developing credibility at the local level.

Related reading: 5 Tips for Making Facebook Marketing Part of Your Social Media Strategy

Open a Google My Business Profile

Given the fact a business benefits from local ratings, it is essential y to have strategy to obtain reviews. One essential tool at your disposal (and that is also free) is a Google My Business profile. This is your starting point for local SEO as many people who search for information about as it will see key details (business hours, reviews, events) about your business at a glance, even before they proceed to your website.

To get a verified listing, you are required to have Google call a phone number you have provided, or you can have a postcard submitted to the address you provide to verify your profile. A verified profile lets you perform better at local SEO because your Google My Business profile page will come up in local searches. When a person searches for a product using their location as a keyword, your business is listed among those in that location that offer that particular product. It increases site visits and ultimately earns you more conversions if these visitors are satisfied with the products you offer.

Employ search and analytics data to guide your strategy

Every business needs a strategy to generate demand for its offering and, ultimately, profits. For an e-commerce business, you need to focus on using the appropriate strategy based on the data you collect from analytics. You need to serve the needs of your customers, but most e-commerce stores are developed without considering search data. To become a successful e-commerce business, it is important to conduct research in order to formulate an SEO project that is customer-centric.

This will help to uncover what people are searching for locally and, with a careful review of the keywords your prospective customers will use when searching, you will be able to come up with a successful strategy. Data is king and if you want to succeed locally as an e-commerce business you need to utilize data in the right way. Considering volume of searches and relevance to your offering is key in the beginning. Over time, analytics should be used to set priorities on search terms that have driven revenue. Using analytics software to understand how your likely buyers will search for products is key to developing strong campaign strategies for local e-commerce success.

Content strategy focused on search data

Based on the data you collect from searches from prospective buyers, you can develop a content strategy. Content is an important part of targeting potential customers with information that is relevant to them and helps them on their buyer’s journey. Targeting local clients means you should also tailor your content to address the questions typically queried by your local market. Local businesses can connect with buyers in their area by understanding their unique needs, incorporating (in a natural way) colloquial language, and including content specific to their region. The most relevant content is based on consumer data including keywords and search phrases as well as trends and preferences.

Optimize your business’ website properly

The reason you need to optimize your website is to achieve targeting efficiently. Your website is a key asset for e-commerce that must come first while planning to initiate a strategy, so you need to master a few things in this area. First, invest in a domain name that highlights the type of business you own as well as its location. Second, remember to add keywords on the title of relevant pages that will help to identify your business and the services it offers. Include local town and city names inside your content and page meta in a natural way where it makes sense. Most importantly, incorporate the address, name, and phone number of your business and add a call to action on each page of the website.

This a guest post by Jennifer Smith with Izenda. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About Izenda

Izenda is an industry leader in embedded ad-hoc reporting. Visit their website to find out how embedding analytics in your application speeds time to market and improves your ROI.

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