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What Is A Company Secretary in Hong Kong & Why You Need One

What Is A Company Secretary in Hong Kong & Why You Need One

At A Glance:

A company secretary is a legal requirement for business registration in Hong Kong. The role is central to ensuring regulatory compliance and is not clerical but administrative and governance-focused.

The company secretary’s responsibilities include ensuring timely submission of annual returns, maintaining compliance with local laws (especially the Companies Ordinance), managing company records, and facilitating communication with authorities like the Inland Revenue Department and Companies Registry.

Engaging an agency like InCorp Hong Kong provides comprehensive support in company incorporation and secretarial services, as they have extensive experience in the Hong Kong market while being cost-efficient. 


Hong Kong, renowned as a premier business epicentre in Asia, maintains a stellar reputation for being among the most liberal economies in the world.

This acclaim stems from its advantageous positioning, favourable tax structures, and policies that warmly welcome business ventures. Consequently, it attracts entrepreneurs across the globe who are keen on leveraging these benefits for business growth.

However, before starting a business in Hong Kong, it is vital to comprehend its legal landscape. A critical regulatory requirement is the appointment of a company secretary.

This comprehensive guide delves into the responsibilities and roles of company secretaries in Hong Kong, offering invaluable insights for businesses to thrive in this dynamic market.

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What Is A Company Secretary In Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, a company secretary serves as the officially designated business representative tasked with guaranteeing that the company’s activities and administration comply with legal requirements. Despite the title “secretary,” the position has no clerical functions whatsoever.

Why Is A Company Secretary In Hong Kong Important?

In Hong Kong, the role of a company secretary is pivotal during the incorporation process, serving far beyond ensuring regulatory adherence.

Mandatory Legal Requirement

Appointing a company secretary is a legal prerequisite for business registration. As stipulated by the Companies Ordinance, your enterprise cannot be registered without a designated secretary. Any attempts at operating without fulfilling this requirement will be met with legal consequences. Therefore, selecting a qualified company secretary is crucial for business incorporation.

Promoting Robust Corporate Governance and Openness

Robust corporate governance is vital for enduring business prosperity. The role of a company secretary is pivotal in fostering an environment of transparency, responsibility, and ethical choices within the firm. They ensure that governance methods align with the company’s goals and regulatory obligations.

Maintaining Adherence to Local Business Norms and Regulations

Hong Kong’s business landscape is governed by specific local regulations and policies. A company secretary is instrumental in helping your business navigate and comply with these local corporate, financial, and tax regulations, thus preventing the company from getting into legal conflicts.

Facilitating Liaison with Hong Kong Authorities

The company secretary is the primary liaison between your business and the Hong Kong government. This role involves responding to any inquiries from government agencies and ensuring clear communication regarding your company’s activities.

Protecting the Company’s Reputation and Trustworthiness

Your company’s reputation is a priceless asset. An adept company secretary plays a crucial role in preserving a favourable public image by guaranteeing that your business abides by legal requirements and maintains high ethical standards. This enhances your standing and reliability in the eyes of stakeholders.

What Are The Responsibilities Of A Company Secretary?

Company Secretary in Hong Kong

Key Responsibilities Description
Filing Annual Returns Ensuring that annual returns are submitted to the relevant authorities on time.
Ensuring Compliance Making sure the business complies with all local laws and regulations, specifically ones outlined within the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance. 
Assistance With Company Wind-Up Up: Assisting the company in the wind-up process, while ensuring that all legal requirements are adhered to.
Providing Governance Advisory Providing the board with advice on governance issues that will shape company policy and strategy.
Overseeing Internal Governance Scheduling and attending board meetings, preparing minutes. Ensuring decisions adhere to company policies and the laws of Hong Kong.
Management Of Share Allocations & Transfers Managing share allocations and transfers while adhering to proper documentation and compliance with the law.
Keeping Statutory Books & Records Up To Date Keeping the company’s statutory books and related legal records up to date and making them available for inspection by authorities.
Taking Note Of Structural Changes Taking note of changes in the company structure, which includes the appointment of director and address changes. The information is to be updated with the Companies Registry.

The Advantages of Appointing an Agency as Your Company Secretary in Hong Kong

Extensive Experience in the Hong Kong Market:

The competitive and unique business environment of Hong Kong requires informed navigation. Agencies such as InCorp Hong Kong have a wealth of experience, enabling them to identify common pitfalls and successful strategies, guiding your company towards success.

Cost Efficiency: 

Businesses can realise significant cost reductions by opting for outsourcing. This approach negates the necessity of recruiting and training in-house personnel for corporate secretarial duties. Furthermore, it circumvents the expenses of sustaining a physical workspace and related infrastructure for these functions.

Assistance with the Significant Controllers Register (SCR):

Post the 2018 amendment to the Companies Ordinance, maintaining an SCR is mandatory for all companies. An agency acting as your company secretary can efficiently manage, maintain, and update this register, ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

FAQs About Company Secretary in Hong Kong

  • In Hong Kong, individuals and corporate entities can be appointed as a company secretary. Requirements for appointment include:
    1. An individual assuming the role of company secretary must be a resident of Hong Kong.
    2. A corporate entity appointed to this position must be registered in Hong Kong and hold a valid Trust and Corporate Service Provider (TCSP) License, a requirement since March 2018.
    3. The corporate entity must also have an operational business address within Hong Kong.
  • During the incorporation process in Hong Kong, if an individual is the sole director or shareholder, they cannot simultaneously assume the role of the company secretary. In this scenario, it becomes necessary to appoint a separate company secretary. This individual will safeguard statutory documents and liaise with the Hong Kong governmental authorities.
  • For businesses searching for a proficient and apt company secretary, it's crucial to consider candidates with the following skills:

    Compliance Assurance: Expertise in planning is critical for a company secretary, as it plays a significant role in maintaining internal and external compliance and coordinating board meetings.
    Multitasking Skills: Handling diverse responsibilities is vital to a company secretary's role. From meeting preparations to governance compliance and maintaining communication among directors, management, and shareholders, they also facilitate connections with outsourced entities such as auditors in Hong Kong.
    Practical Communication Skills: Proficiency in both oral and written communication is imperative for a company secretary, given their frequent interactions with directors, shareholders, and partners.
    Judgment Skills: Beyond experience and business acumen, a company secretary must exhibit strong judgment skills for making sound decisions during crises or conflicts. Identifying advantageous opportunities and effectively communicating with senior management are also crucial competencies.
    Planning Skills: Efficiency in planning is vital for a company secretary, who is responsible for organising board and committee meetings, ensuring compliance, and timely distribution of meeting agendas.
    Legal Knowledge: While not required to be a legal expert, a company secretary must understand legal responsibilities and ensure company compliance with legal obligations. Awareness of regulatory requirements set by the Company Registry and Inland Revenue Department is essential.

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About the Author

InCorp Content Team

InCorp's content team includes talented copywriters from our regional group and globally. We contribute informative, thought leadership, and market-trending articles to guide aspiring business entrepreneurs to a higher level across the Asia-Pacific region.

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