How to Close a Public Accounting Practice
Plan and Communicate an Effective Exit Strategy
A member closing or selling their practice will need to develop an effective transition strategy. If you do not appropriately plan the close of your practice, you may be in breach of the CPA Code of Professional Conduct. We recommend that you start planning your exit strategy five years in advance.
Members should communicate the close of their practice in writing to ensure that clients clearly understand that they need to find a new accountant. They will also need to determine if they will continue to be involved in the practice in some capacity until the transition is complete or stay on as a consultant. Members should think about their transition and/or succession plan at least five years in advance.
Members will also need to determine if the name of the practice should change. To change the firm name please complete and return the Firm Update Form 4-6A is required.
Consider Using the Practice Listing Service
The Practice Listing Service is available to members interested in buying or selling a public accounting practice or entering into a succession or merger arrangement. More information is available in the Advisory Services section under Practice Listing Service.
Statutory and Regulatory Requirements
1. Notification of practice closure
Sole proprietorship, partnership or LLP: completion and submission of a Firm Update Form 4-6A is required.
Professional corporations: If a professional corporation no longer provides services to the public or to another firm, completion and submission of a Professional corporation Update Form 4-6B is required. You may continue to hold shares in the professional corporation, but no accounting services may be performed through the professional corporation once it is closed in CPA Ontario records. If applicable, attach the original certificate of authorization or a completed and signed Certificate Declaration of Loss Form 4-3D.
If the firm was recently closed and the discovery insurance policy is not yet available (see below), proof of discovery insurance coverage must be provided to CPA Ontario within 30 days of the practice cessation date, and annually thereafter for a six-year period from the date of cessation of practice.
2. Obtain discovery insurance
Contact your current insurance provider and switch your current policy to a discovery policy. Your insurance policy must be maintained for a period of six years from the cessation date. A notice to update discovery insurance information with CPA Ontario will be sent annually and will contain a declaration of compliance with the mandatory insurance requirement.
3. Withdraw LLP registration with the ministry, if applicable
Contact the Ministry of Government Services, Companies and Personal Property Security Branch at 416-314-8880 to obtain forms. Complete an Return/Notice of Change by an Ontario Corporation Form 1 to deregister the existing name.
4. Update your profile
Please update your member profile with any contact changes, including employment information.
Affinity partners such as Manulife should be contacted directly with any changes to your employment and contact information.
Annual Practitioner Fee and Licensing
If the practice ceased operating on or before October 1st, the annual practitioner fee for the firm is not required for that year.
A retired member who renews their public accounting licence but is not practising will be required to file the annual practitioner fee notice of fee exemption annually, if they are not practising.
A retired member may continue to renew their licence only as long as the minimum hours are met along with other criteria.