The importance of documentation in business operations and compliance
Article 2 minute read

The importance of documentation in business operations and compliance

19 May 2016

Documentation instils confidence within your business, among potential investors and your clients.

Documentation tells the story of a business; its origins, intent and the journey it’s taking to achieve its ambitions. Contracts serve as a gateway through which your venture can enter new markets and expand its reach; other paperwork validates your current position and provides assurance to your investors and customers.

Multinationals in particular face increased scrutiny on a global level, finding that they have little margin for error when it comes to their operations, accountability and compliance; and so obtaining the correct documents for each jurisdiction in which you operate is crucial, as is the subsequent maintenance of these records.

Documents provide for governance

Many jurisdictions require a company to prepare and submit Articles of Association or Constitution upon formation. These are written rules outlining how a company operates, how officers and directors are appointed and what powers they have. Although the scope of these documents varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, they generally state the internal ‘rules’ of a legal entity.

These documents are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they are fit for purpose and legally compliant. As such, numerous iterations are created and obtaining the latest document from official government sources is often an excellent initial step to understanding the legally correct version. 

Documents keep you compliant

Meeting the compliance requirements of the relevant in-country authorities is an essential aspect of good corporate governance and ensures that penalties and fines for late submissions are avoided.

Understanding which document to submit to the authorities and when submission should be undertaken is essential. A certificate of compliance for example confirms that a company is registered correctly with the authorities and is in compliance with its statutory filing obligations.

Annual returns are a snapshot of a legal entity’s corporate information at a particular point in time. They are particularly interesting as historical submissions provide a record of information often stretching back years. 

Documents unlock opportunities

Official records and up-to-date paperwork projects an excellent image of a company – with more than just the relevant regulatory bodies. Opportunities to secure lucrative contracts, subsidies and various opportunities are inextricably linked to the quality of the documentation. Conversely, something as innocuous as missing a submission deadline for annual financial statements has a disproportional negative impact on a company’s credit rating, its customers and the wider stakeholder community.   

Documents protect your integrity

The attention of global regulatory bodies is firmly fixed on multinational companies and their activities.  Increasingly, the public image projected by a multinational company is indicative of its internal governance standards and poor standards are a smoking-gun to regulators.

Keeping correct and accurate documentation allows a company to present itself in the best light – demonstrating effective global governance procedures.

Written by

Matthew Eckford

Former Director of International Entity Management

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