Update your firm’s descriptive style before July 1

Update your firm’s descriptive style before July 1

Have you heard? An important deadline is quickly approaching!

Effective July 1, all professional accounting firms are required to solely use Chartered Professional Accountant(s) in their descriptive/naming style.

To give you all the facts and what you can do to meet the cutoff, we caught up with Jennifer Halabi, CPA Alberta’s Manager, Corporate Registrations, to explain the rule and process.

What does that mean and how do you start the process?

“You may remember, as part of the unification of the profession, firms were allowed to continue to use their legacy descriptive style for five years post-unification,” says Jennifer. “However, by July 1—the five year anniversary—all firms will need to have updated their descriptive style to solely Chartered Professional Accountant(s).”

That means, currently your firm name may look like:

  • Smith & Doe Chartered Professional Accountant(s), Chartered Accountants
  • Smith & Doe Chartered Accountants

But after the deadline, your firm name must look like:

  • Smith & Doe Chartered Professional Accountant(s)

How do you start to change your firm name?

“The process is quite simple,” says Jennifer. “The designated member will need to contact CPA Alberta’s Corporate Registrations Team at PAF@cpaalberta.ca and submit the necessary documents. We’ll take it from there.”

In your email you are required to include:

  • a confirmation of the desired new name including descriptive style;
  • the effective date of the change; and
  • a sample of the firms’ letterhead and reports (Audit, Review and/or Compilation) reflecting the change.

Note: the Corporate Registrations team only reviews the signature block of reports. No other content is examined.

What does your team look for during the review of the documents?

“The main things we are looking to see during our review is that the full registered name of the firm, including the fully spelled out Chartered Professional Accountant(s) descriptive style, is represented on the letterhead and the signature block of the report,” explains Jennifer. “We frequently see that the reports are being signed under the member’s name, when in fact it should be under the firm’s name.”

Where do you see the most confusion arising during the process? Are there elements CPAs should be extra mindful of when submitting?

“The biggest source of confusion  usually revolves around the difference between descriptive style requirements for the firm and the designation tagging for the individual CPA. The July 1, deadline is only in regards to the descriptive style for the firm,” says Jennifer. “Alberta CPAs have different tagging options and dates for their designation tagging after their personal name—and they have the option of using their legacy designation indefinitely when tagging after their personal name.”

How long does this process take from start to finish?

“Once you send in your email, we will respond within two to three business days with next steps. The process can be really quick or it might take a few days, depending on whether changes are needed to the documents that are provided. The main thing we want to ensure in this process is that all of our firms know what is required of them when it comes to letterhead and how to sign the reports,” says Jennifer. “If you have any questions, CPA Alberta’s Corporate Registrations Team is here to help!”


For more information on updating your firm’s descriptive style, visit: https://www.cpaalberta.ca/Members/Public-Practice/Professional-Accounting-Firm/Naming-Requirements.

For more information on the use of the designation for individual CPAs, visit: https://www.cpaalberta.ca/Members/CPA-Designation-and-Logo-Use/Designation-Use-for-Members