If you’re a foreign company owner in Malaysia, you are probably aware of the incorporation laws the country has. While not as exhaustive as other countries, Malaysia does impose the few they have very strictly. These laws, imposed by the SSM state the following are a requirement for a private limited company in Malaysia:
- A minimum of one director (resident*)
- A minimum of one shareholder
- A minimum of one company secretary (resident, licensed by the SSM)
By resident, this means that the individual must either reside in Malaysia due to citizenship or by permanent residency.
While in certain countries, hiring a company secretary is optional, in Malaysia it is not. Thus, in order to have your company officially registered, you will need to hire an individual for this position. (Source: our another article, how do you register your company in Malaysia? full guidelines on there.)
So, what are you supposed to do when it comes to hiring your company secretary?
The first thing you may do is to consult the SSM for their list of licensed secretaries. From their page, you will deduce that strict regulations are in place and becoming licensed with the SSM is a stringent process. In fact, an aspiring individual will have to meet all of the following requirements to be licensed in Malaysia:
- They have to be above the age of 18
- They have to be a resident of Malaysia
- They must hold a supporting statement from their bank to declare that they are not bankrupt
- They must not have a criminal record
- They will need to be registered or affiliated with one of the following:
- The MIA as a chartered accountant
- The MAICSA as a chartered secretary
- The Malaysian bar as a lawyer
When looking for candidates to hire, you may use the directory in the SSM. Alternatively, you may also look on popular freelancing websites to find a freelance secretary. Both options have their pros and cons and you may choose accordingly to what suits your company best.
Next, you will have to conduct research on what skills a company secretary should have. You will then need to compile these skills into a document and use it as a reference during the hiring process. So, what are these skills? Well, they can roughly be classed as the following:
Being an officer of the board has certain responsibilities tied to it. As a senior executive, they are expected to lead and manage a team under them. As such, a display of leadership skills is strongly deeded. These include: Task delegation, confidence, charisma and integrity. The individual needs to be able to take initiative and motivate members of their team to perform. Moreover, they will have to exhibit confidence in order to lead the company board to make the best decisions.
Time management and attention to detail
Oftentimes as a company secretary there will be more than one project at a time to work on. Thus, they will need to be able to effectively separate time in order to be able to finish all tasks at hand. Moreover, they will need to have a keen eye for detail as they will need to submit company returns to the SSM within the deadlines stipulated. This deadline will be strict, so time management is a must. Failure to meet deadlines may cause penalties for your company. This may either be in the form of fines or suspensions of business license.
Communication and charisma
The company secretary is often the first point of contact for all external parties for the company. These include both the SSM and parties interested in the company. As such, good communicative skills are a must. Moreover, they should also be charismatic so as to present the company well. This in turn will benefit the company greatly.
Multilingualism (Especially with regards to Bahasa Malaysia)
The official language of Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia. As such, all official proceedings are conducted in BM. Although, English is used for all business needs, knowledge of BM is impertinent. Thus, an individual having a strong command of multiple languages will be extremely beneficial for your company.
As an advisor to the board of the company, the candidate should show they have ample knowledge in certain fields. These areas are the regulations in the Companies Act, Malaysian law and the economy. They should also display an awareness of the current market trends. If they do not have this knowledge, they will need to show a willingness to learn and update themselves.
The SSM is currently under works to integrate into a fully online system. As such, a candidate should be able to display strong technological skills. Skill in spreadsheets and word documents are also preferred. As this will be useful if they are tasked to do data interpretation.