Company Secretary

Rise of the Chief Governance Officer

2019 was a positive year for the Company Secretary profession and saw progress in the rise of the Chief Governance Officer as a newly defined, and more strategic, role for the Company Secretary. To support this evolution, in 2019 the ICSA (UK Institute of Company Secretaries and Administrators) formally changed its name to The Chartered Governance Institute and we are starting to see this emerge in role profiles.

  • Aileen Taylor left RBS to join HSBC as Group Company Secretary and Chief Governance Officer.
  • Pamela Coles, Group Company Secretary with Rolls-Royce changed her title to Chief Governance Officer.

Increase in interim hires 

The year saw significant demand for interim resource. As a result of continued regulatory and public scrutiny, the role of the Company Secretary functions is having to transition away from acting in an administrative role to performing in a strategic and proactive manner, without always additional headcount to support these new demands.
While the rise of the function is welcomed, many Company Secretaries have had to think innovatively around how they maximise resource in a cost-constrained year. Project interims to support deals and fixed term resource to cover sickness or maternity leave have been in high demand.
The M&G Prudential listing and demerger was the highest profile deal this year and required significant project resource to support the business through what was a complex transaction.

Moves in Financial Services and stability in the FTSE corporate landscape 

At a senior level, the year saw a number of moves within Financial Services whereas the FTSE corporate landscape was more stable than previous years.

  • In addition to Aileen Taylor joining HSBC, Amanda Mellor left Marks & Spencer to join as Group Company Secretary for Standard Chartered Bank.
  • Katie Jackson-Turner departed from Astra Zeneca in order to take up the Company Secretary role with Santander UK.
  • Jason Wright left Barclays to take up the Director of Secretariat position with Nationwide.
  • Moving in the opposite direction, Ben Mathews left HSBC in order to become Group Company Secretary for BP.

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