Professional Accounting Firm (PAF) Naming Requirements

Naming Requirements

The name of the Professional Accounting Firm (PAF) must fall within the stipulations set out in Rule 401 of the Rules of Professional Conduct and Associated Guidance.

The Rule states that naming conventions are meant to allow CPAs and firms “to conduct their practices under names which reflect their individual preferences and which are appropriate for their particular marketplaces”.

When considering a possible practice name, consider what would be acceptable by CPA Alberta for registration purposes. CPA Alberta considers the following to be an “identifiable concern,” if a practice name is:

  • misleading;
  • self-laudatory;
  • exclusionary (implying that others do not or cannot offer similar services);
  • limiting to others (e.g. if reference is made to a location, region or area);
  • profane, vulgar, immorally suggestive or of similar poor taste; or
  • such that the good reputation of the CPA profession may be impaired or compromised.

PLEASE NOTE, for a professional corporation, any practice name that is inconsistent with the registered corporate name is considered to be misleading.  

When using a name and presenting it to the public, all other Regulations, Bylaws and/or Rules relating to it must be followed (e.g. noting Chartered Professional Accountant(s), Limited Liability Partnership, and/or association, as applicable).

It is strongly recommended that, prior to purchasing materials such as stationary, signage, and advertising, please have the possible firm name reviewed by CPA Alberta’s Corporate Registrations team. This will ensure that the name does not present any identifiable concerns.

If you would like to submit your desired PAF name for review, please email CPA Alberta’s Corporate Registrations team at PAF@cpaalberta.ca.

Descriptive Style

To change your firm name or descriptive style to include Chartered Professional Accountant(s), you must first contact the Corporate Registrations team at PAF@cpaalberta.ca.

Professional accounting firms are required to use the designation in association with their firm name - or what is known as the firm’s descriptive style. As part of the unification of the profession, firms that were registered prior to July 1, 2015 are allowed to use their legacy descriptive style for five (5) years post-unification.

All firms registered with CPA Alberta since July 1, 2015 are required to use the Chartered Professional Accountant(s) descriptive style with no “tagging” of legacy descriptive styles.

Currently, legacy firm registrants (those registered prior to unification) may continue to use their legacy descriptive style or may begin to use the Chartered Professional Accountant(s) descriptive style alone or in conjunction with their legacy descriptive style. The descriptive style of the firm must be fully written out - which means the abbreviated form is not permitted.

For example:

  • Smith & Doe Chartered Professional Accountant(s); or
  • Smith & Doe Chartered Professional Accountant(s), Chartered Accountant(s); or
  • Smith & Doe Chartered Accountant(s)

Effective July 1, 2020, all firms will be required to solely use Chartered Professional Accountant(s). No “tagging” or sole use of legacy descriptive styles will be allowed.

If you haven’t changed your firm’s descriptive style, consider doing so. To change your firm name or descriptive style, you must contact CPA Alberta’s Corporate Registrations team at PAF@cpaalberta.ca. In your email, please include the following:

  • Confirmation of the potential new name including descriptive style
  • Effective date of the change
  • A sample of the firms’ letterhead and reports (Audit, Review and/or NTR) reflecting the change. Note: the Corporate Registrations team will only review the signature block of reports. No other content is examined. Please refrain from sending any reports that contact client information. 

As a reminder, the rules for personal use of the designation are different than those for firm descriptive style. More details on individual use of the designation is available here.

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