CSSA Best Practice Guide – Artificial intelligence and the impact on the Company Secretary

Introduction

With AI being prominent in debate in the workplace, it is important to understand the meaning of AI and how it could impact our work environment. Company secretaries fulfil a vital role within an entity as the trusted adviser to the board, and AI will likely be seen to enhance the company secretary’s functions to allow more time to focus on complex issues and tasks.

In this paper, we first review the role of the Company Secretary and how it has evolved. The debates about AI are then identified. AI is then looked at in a South African context. The disadvantages and advantages are analysed. Recommendations are then made on the way forward for the Company Secretary and what needs to be done in order to maximise human participation with robots so that a harmonious environment is created wherein humans and robots will complement rather than replace each other.

It is most likely that AI will abolish the repetitive and administrative tasks, which still form part of the Company Secretary’s role. This does not mean that future company secretaries would not need to continue to acquaint themselves with these tasks, as there will always be nuances specific to a company, and company secretaries would need to be able to review the correctness or otherwise of such documents. AI will reduce the manual workload and will automate lower level functions of the Company Secretary, thereby improving due diligence processes and providing assistance with compliance procedures. Instead of viewing AI as a threat to the Company Secretary role, AI should be seen as an opportunity to improve the overall knowledge base and fiduciary controls within the company.

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