About Us

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) is the premier global qualifying organisation for professionals aspiring to become a Chartered Secretary and qualifies people who have roles as company secretaries, governance advisers, risk managers, compliance managers and more.

We are the worldwide qualifying body for Chartered secretaries and governance professionals, whose broad skill set includes law, governance, and compliance, and who are intrinsically fundamental to the smooth running of all types of organisations, including public and private companies, and organisations in the Not-For-Profit and public sectors.

ICSA is the home of good governance. With 125 years of history, we assist in the development of skills, knowledge and experience of governance professionals through our institute’s professional certification, training programmes, quality guidance and technical expertise and know how.

We are an international body, with over 30,000 members living and working in over 80 countries.  We have nine divisions worldwide, supporting our membership and qualifying students through our international qualifying scheme.

ICSA brings its influence to bear on international trade bodies, governments, regulators, NGO’s and companies to represent the views and current thinking of those involved in governance.

History

Established in 1891 in the United Kingdom our knowledge and expertise is steeped in history and as such we continue to be leaders in current governance practice.

The introduction of the limited liability company in the United Kingdom in 1855 and the first Companies Act in1862 led to a rapid increase in company formation and the need for professionals to administer them. By 1892 there were 15,477 companies on the books of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies in the United Kingdom and so the profession of corporate secretary emerged to govern their administration.

Thomas Brown and a number of other influential company secretaries founded the Institute of Secretaries in 1891 to represent their interests.

By 1902 the Institute had grown to 1,500 members and the royal charter was granted in that year. The members of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries of Joint Stock Companies and other Public Bodies became known as Chartered Secretaries.

The first overseas branch was established in South Africa in 1909, then Australia in 1914, with seven other countries eventually to follow.

Women were admitted in 1916.

From 1914 the Institute of Secretaries was based at London Wall, moving to a Livery Hall purchased from the Worshipful Company of Curriers in 1928. This building was destroyed during an air raid in 1940 and temporary HQ was established in Gresham Street.

In 1970 the Institute merged with the Corporation of Secretaries becoming the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in 1971. In 1981 the ICSA absorbed the Institute of Local Government Administrators.

Our Mission

To be the leading global professional institute in governance.  Our objectives are to promote the knowledge and skills of Chartered Secretaries and the importance of practicing good governance.

Global reach

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators is a truly global organisation.  All members worldwide qualify under a common and portable qualifying scheme and as members of a unitary international organisation they are entitled to use the post-nominal of either ACIS or FCIS. Our membership is transferable from country to country and division to division, depending on a member’s domicile.

When membership in a country has reached a significant number, the Council establishes a ‘division’ in that country which operates with its own Committee of Council, staff, and premises. This has enabled members worldwide to be serviced locally, whilst remaining a member of an international body at the same time.

When a country does not yet have enough members to support a divisional structure, these members are automatically on the register of the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Associated Territories Division.

Our strategy

In harmony with its mission The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators seeks to be the leading professional institute for company secretaries, non-executive directors, risk professionals and other professionals involved in governance. It achieves this by:

  • Offering the world’s leading post-graduate qualification in governance and company secretarial practice
  • Supporting its nine divisions around the world thus enabling them to provide premium professional best practice support to its members worldwide.
  • Enhancing the community’s understanding of what a qualified Chartered Secretary or governance professional can bring to an organisation.

Advocating for good governance practice in developed and developing countries and working with super-national organisations to achieve this.