Firm structures

Content Summary

Emerging models for firm structures include partnerships where the new partner does not have to purchase equity in the firm, corporatised models that allow external shareholders and differing levels of equity for partners and staff, and models where new owners do not have to buy goodwill.

Top tips for selecting a firm structure

  • Be clear on your goals
  • Be aware of how regulations impact each operating structure
  • Consider your proposed exit strategy

CPA Australia By-Law requirements

Under CPA Australia’s By-Law 9.3, a member who offers public accounting services may only do so:

  • as a sole trader
  • as a partner
  • via a company
  • as a trust, or
  • with a practice structure that the CPA Australia Board has approved.

If you’re a CPA Australia member providing public accounting services in Australia or New Zealand, you’ll need to hold CPA status and a public practice certificate, regardless of where you’re located.


Determining the appropriate practice structure can be complex. You need to consider a range of issues including personal liability, succession planning and taxation. You must also decide what structure suits your current circumstances and business model and how this choice may affect your practice in the future.

We recommend you seek professional advice about which structure best suits your needs. This guidance highlights some key considerations.