5 Tips when Choosing a Company Secretary Service Firm

Written By: Rachel Sia

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Last updated: July 22, 2020
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We’ve previously went through who we’d think are the top 5 company secretary firms in Singapore – but how do you choose the right service provider?

The service providers are aplenty. With such intense competition, customers usually benefit the most. In addition to being able to compare prices, and having higher “bargaining power”, you can also easily switch between different company secretary firms.

Think of the amount of options you’ll have, similar to how you can compare and choose your no-sim mobile phone data plan (times 10!).

How to choose the right Company Secretary Firm?

Just like making any core business decision, it would be preferable to know and understand first – what is your company requirement, or what do you need? Thereafter, you may consider the following factors:

i. Price and services offered

Let’s start off with the obvious. Price is always a consideration. What you should also know though, that it is not the only factor to use to filter through the different service providers available.

This is because, the roles and responsibilities of a company secretary are varied. It can range to basic compliance like meeting just the statutory requirements and annual returns filing, to ongoing compliance and filing requirements such as updating of company particulars, directors or shareholders etc.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for firms to price their services attractively at a very low price, and then have a lot of extra and add-on charges after the company secretary appointment itself. An example would be – one where the ACRA fee of $60 might not be included in the service pricing.

On the other hand, companies that charges high amount does not necessarily mean all bases are covered, and what they offer is better than the rest. They may be priced with a premium, but offer the same baseline services only.

Rather, in addition to comparing prices, you should also look for what is provided, for that price. Here’s a quick run down of what to look for when comparing prices:

  • Are annual returns filing fee included?
  • Are there separate charges for updating of company information, officers, or shares?
  • Is there an early cancellation fee?
  • Is there a company secretary transfer fee?
  • How much is the renewal fee? Common malpractice would be where firms charge a low introductory price, only to have a higher renewal price after the first year.

Aside from simply looking at the price, you should also look at what is offered in the package - such as whether additional fees apply.

ii. Ensure the service provider is a Registered Filing Agent

A Registered Filing Agent (RFA) is an entity or individual who carries out on behalf of any other person (ie a customer), any transaction with the with the Registrar (ACRA) during the course of its or his business.

Contrary to popular beliefs, as of this writing, the criteria to be appointed as a Company Secretary is quite easy to be met. Almost anyone can be a Company Secretary for a Private Limited Company. Though if you are the only Director, you can not also be the Company Secretary. 

Nonetheless, by having a Company Secretary appointed from an RFA – you can be assured of the quality and may have higher expectations of the appointed individuals.

This is because, there are more stringent criteria in order to be an RFA. 

RFAs also have greater power and responsibility as opposed to a layman company secretary. For example, only employees of an RFA will be able to appoint a foreign director in a Company.

iii. Who, exactly will be your company secretary?

If the company secretary is going to be appointed in your company’s business profile and registrar – it is important to know who they are.

Sometimes, company secretary appointments are outsourced. As such, you want to make sure the person appointed for your company is someone you can speak to, that they are aware they’ll be appointed company secretary in your company and that you can easily communicate with them.

Common questions to consider would be:

  • How responsive are they?
  • Are they outsourced?
  • Can you speak on the phone directly with them?
  • Are they clear of their roles and responsibilities?
  • Are they qualified?

iv. Timeliness and reliability

The company secretary is one who should be monitoring the filing due dates and respective deadline of the company. He or she must be fully aware of the company’s annual compliance matters relating to ACRA and IRAS.

Late filing not only result in fines and penalties, but may also have implications on the director of the company. This is because, the main responsibility of the company lies on the director.

Is your company secretary forgetful? Has there always been a late filing penalty – which can be easily avoided by timely filing? You’d want to look for a company secretary that is reliable, prompt and timely in filing.

v. Is your company secretary traditional or not up to current times?

Traditional company secretary are ones that handles most of the paperwork physically. They may even insist on having a company common seal (PS: The requirement to have common seals have been abolished since 31st March 2017.)

In this digital age, you should expect your company secretary to at least be technologically savvy, and should be aware of the changes in regulations and legislations.

Of course, that is not to say you should go all in and jump onboard the services of an online company secretary – one where you don’t get to meet or speak to your company secretary in person. The mode of communication is usually through chat, or apps.

Consider your working style, and choose one that suits your company.

How is Leftright Corporate different?

We can’t talk about how to choose a company secretary company, without recommending ourselves.

We try our best to portray our services to be as transparent, and genuine as possible. Especially in the B2B services industry – we’re in this for the long haul; and to do that we value our working relationship with our client, and assign a dedicated account manager to every single one of our client.

One representative who you will look for when you have questions or doubts – contactable even directly on their mobile phone.

Just because we believe in the services we offer, we’ll contrast Leftright Corporate with the checklist we’ve mentioned in this article as well. Here’s our shameless plug:

Price

Our pricing methodology is transparent, and simple. We include all associated filing fees, and lay out what to expect from the get go.

We also offer renewal fees at the same price we’ve offered you from the beginning. No price increase – guaranteed.

We're a RFA

Leftright Corporate Pte. Ltd. is a registered filing agent (RFA). Our license number is FA20200114.

Your appointed company secretary is fully qualified.

Company Secretary, on our payroll

Your company secretary is on our payroll, not outsourced. He or she is also your account manager.

Your direct point of contact for all things business related. Call, text, or meet your company secretary as required.

Automated Reminder Systems

We’ve coded our own internal software to dish out automated reminder emails. You’ll never have to pay for late filing penalty anymore.

In addition, our company stays involved in the ongoing and upcoming regulation and compliance changes that may apply. We’re kept fully aware – so you don’t have to.

Combination of tech and human touch

We develop, and use the latest tech to keep up to date. While robots do the monotonous work, humans do the interaction and communication.

Let’s face it, who likes to speak with a chat bot?

Make sure your company is compliant

Your focus should be on your business. Appoint a registered company secretary to handle everything else.