Company Secretary 

Key Themes & Moves

Opportunity to cement the role of Chief Governance Officer

2020, and the Covid-19 crisis, has brought a unique opportunity for the role of Chief Governance Officer to become more strategic and influential. The role has been a critical position in recent months, responsible for facilitating information flow and management decision making.

There has been a change in how the role is perceived at Board and Executive level and the function is seen as a key contributor from a governance perspective in crisis management. Read more in our latest Company Secretary survey:

https://www.leathwaite.com/news-insights/leathwaite-insights/research-report-company-secretary-2020-survey-responding-to-covid-19/

Catalyst for change & digitalisation

Covid-19 has provided the catalyst to embrace virtual board meetings (and electronic board papers) and accept the use of digital and electronic signatures. Due to the speed with which decisions are being made, there is a necessity to ensure that board papers are succinct and focused. Many organisations are addressing their AGM with proactive solutions being implemented around virtual AGM and shareholder events.

These challenging circumstances, no matter how unwanted, has constituted a very real opportunity for change. Company Secretary functions that seize this opportunity to modernise and streamline their processes will be in a position to fundamentally change the approach to corporate governance (and will recognise cost savings whilst doing so).

More activity in combined roles than pure Company Secretary appointments

At a senior level, 2019 saw a number of newsworthy moves within Financial Services whereas the FTSE corporate landscape was more stable than previous years. In contrast, the last quarter has seen far more activity within FTSE corporates and in particular in combined appointments:

  • Paul Barrett joined Helios as General Counsel & Company Secretary from RAC
  • Simon Callander joined William Hill as General Counsel & Company Secretary from Superdry
  • Alice Darwall joined Hammerson as General Counsel & Company Secretary from Debenhams
  • Nick Cooper joined Johnson Mathey as General Counsel & Company Secretary; he has held a previous role with Cable & Wireless
  • Graeme Baldwin was internally appointed as General Counsel & Company Secretary at Pearson
  • Jeremy Small joined Royal London as Company Secretary from AXA

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