The idea of coming up with a startup to disrupt Malaysia’s company secretary (CoSec) industry first struck Mica during her confinement period after her firstborn in 2016.
She had joined the CoSec industry in 2010, and had worked in large firms as well as operated her own smaller firm managing a number of clients.
“During this confinement period I still have to work upon clients’ requests and I found it truly inconvenient and frustrating that I had to get someone to help access the information and files, and help me deliver the documents around,” Mica recalled.
“It made me wonder how good it would be if all the clients’ documents are on a secured cloud system which both sides can access anytime, anywhere.”
In 2019, once she connected with her co-founder Jerry Chai, who’s also a seasoned CoSec, she finally kicked off TrustMaven.
Bringing Tech To A “Stagnant” Industry
As I had no knowledge of the current state of Malaysia’s secretarial industry, Mica enlightened me.
In brief, it hasn’t seen much change for the longest time.
Often, people see CoSecs as just an admin role or someone who is responsible to settle paperwork for them upon requests and give advice on some compliance matters.Mica Lee, co-founder of TrustMaven
Most, if not all, of the business community understands the importance of bringing their businesses online, but lack the motivation and know-how to do so.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, we can see that business owners realise it’s more pressing than ever for them to digitalise their business,” she said.
“Furthermore, the government frequently introduces new regulations, hence increasing the compliance needs of every company.”
Company directors would then often fail as it becomes unmanageable for them to equip themselves with the required knowledge to keep up with the changes.
Mica and her team find it illogical that the CoSec industry doesn’t progress when all other businesses are going online.
“I mean, how can we advise our clients adequately if we don’t seek to first revolutionise ourselves, and blend our work with the latest technologies such as the cloud, AI and block chain?”
A Secretary In Your Pocket
Some main scenarios that companies would face, and that TrustMaven is well equipped to handle are:
- The struggle of meeting compliance deadlines due to a poor filing system, resulting in late submissions, penalties and compounds which were avoidable,
- Directors who neglect learning their responsibilities and duties, and face the consequences of getting involved in court cases,
- The failure to plan a proper shareholding structure, resulting in conflict of interest, the loss of voting rights, etc.
Each company should have at least one qualified CoSec who can provide adequate monitoring, advice, and execution of compliance duties.
However, Mica said that other than for large business entities like public listed companies, it is not usually beneficial to hire an in-house CoSec.
Aside from the higher salary cost of maintaining an in-house CoSec, she shared some reasons why it would be beneficial for a company to opt for an outsource firm like TrustMaven instead.
“For example, we can provide adequate advice as we have experience in dealing with clients from different industries.”
“There is also another advantage whereby an external CoSec is independent and able to give earnest advice to the board of directors,” Mica explained.
Thus, at TrustMaven, you’ll be provided with not one, but two qualified CoSecs who are Chartered Secretaries for RM1,600/year.
They’ll handle matters like company incorporation, secretarial services, filing of Annual Return and Financial Statements, opening a company bank account, the preparation of directors’ and members’ resolutions, and more.
The TrustMaven app essentially acts as a CoSec in users’ pockets to help monitor, advise, and educate on all compliance-related matters in order for businesses to grow without these worries.
It also allows companies to access their statutory documents on the cloud whenever and wherever needed.
The Hard Push For Going Digital
As they handle a lot of sensitive data, TrustMaven sends out a Letter of Personal Data Protection Notice to assure all clients that their personal data is safeguarded in their database, and won’t be shared without their consent.
Right now, they have just over 100 clients that are mainly new startups in the IT, e-commerce and software development industries.
“The idea behind TrustMaven is to break the convention and use technology to help manage companies’ compliance needs at scale. At this point we are not just merely looking to be ‘online’ or go paperless,” Mica said.
Rather, they are in the phase of discovery and experimenting with tech products that can help them drive cost down and reduce automatable work.
Each CoSec will then be able to handle more clients and focus on solving a client’s needs at a more individual level.
“We are carefully studying the market’s needs to help us take on a more suitable business model and more relevant marketing strategies that break away from the conventional secretarial firms.”
Mica concluded, “When the time is right, we will not hesitate to put in resources to drive growth more aggressively.”
Featured Image Credit: Mica Lee, co-founder of TrustMaven