CPA Australia encourages bold and innovative projects in the following areas:

Accounting and finance education

Accounting and finance education faces challenges as it strives to define, teach and assess relevant knowledge, skills and abilities in a rapidly changing world. Technological innovations involving big data, blockchain, AI and robotics, as well as the changing social, cultural, economic and political contexts in which we live and work, demand a wide range of high-level transferable skills and intercultural fluency.

Hot topics for 2018

  • Impact of technology: Best practice approaches to embedding the understanding and use of technology in accounting and finance education
  • Teaching and assessing transferable skills
  • Innovative assessment practices
  • Educating the accounting and finance professionals of the future
  • Globalisation and internationalisation: Educating the global accounting and finance workforce


Continuing attention is being paid to international standards issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board, the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants, and the International Federation of Accountants for financial and non-financial reporting, assurance and ethical matters.

Hot topics for 2018

  • Impact of technology in financial reporting
  • The future of reporting and its relevance, including digital reporting
  • Alternatives to financial reporting
  • The reporting entity concept
  • Non-GAAP measures
  • Not-for-profits and charities
  • Financial reporting users and their needs

Audit and assurance

Evidence gathering in audit and assurance practice is evolving, largely due to the use of data analytics and the possibilities that new technologies and big data offer. The way audit practices are resourced is changing as well, with offshoring becoming more common and new skills required within teams. In financial reporting, firms are under increasing pressure from regulators seeking improvements to audit quality and the demonstration of professional scepticism. To remain relevant, auditors need to take into consideration new forms of external reporting that require assurance of non-financial information.

Hot topics for 2018

  • Impact of technology: Data analysis, use of big data, blockchain and continuous auditing
  • Audit quality: Effective drivers, indicators and transparency reporting
  • Assurance on <IR>, sustainability and other emerging forms of external reporting
  • Value of audit and assurance
  • Developing and demonstrating professional scepticism
  • Impacts of reporting key audit matters
  • Fee dependence and the impact of fees on quality and independence in audit and non-audit services


Substantial attention is being paid to how aspects of environmental, social and governance criteria (ESG) are being mainstreamed into business measurement, practice and reporting. Linking ESG-based performance to external reporting poses questions about how accounting practice should adapt or develop to contend with changing expectations.

Hot topics for 2018

  • Impact of technology: Financial and non-financial information, integration and disclosure
  • Carbon and other climate-related measurement and risk, including implications for financial accounting and corporate governance
  • Developments in natural capital and other externalities
  • International and national regulation of corporate and director behaviour
  • Measurement and impacts (behavioural, market, etc.) of emerging forms of corporate reporting and other disclosures
  • Valuation, pricing practices and information utility


Ethical behaviour and acting in the public interest are the overarching responsibilities of accounting and finance professionals. These responsibilities require specific personal capabilities, organisational infrastructure and culture. Given the complexity of personal and organisational ethical behaviour, we need multidisciplinary insights to develop an appropriate understanding and useful theories and models of organisational and accounting and finance ethics

Hot topics for 2018

  • Impact of technology on ethical thought processes and decision making
  • Whistleblowing and public interest disclosures
  • Inducements and or pressure to engage in unethical behaviour
  • Impact of non-assurance services on independence
  • Fraud and corruption
  • Behavioural ethics and professional standards
  • Compliance and value approaches for accounting ethics
  • Accounting and human rights

Business issues

Change is the only certainty in business – change in our own backyards as well as change in the global environment. To remain competitive requires not only an understanding of the drivers and direction of change, but how businesses and nations should transform to prosper. The profession needs to be attuned and adaptive to facilitate transformation.

Hot topics for 2018

  • Impact of technology on business models: Automation, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, bitcoin, cybercrime
  • Policy approaches to encourage fintech in different jurisdictions
  • Business succession
  • Future of the work environment
  • Workplace diversity


Tax is a critical policy area for any government. Not only do governments use tax to raise revenue, they need to provide services to the community. Tax policy, furthermore, is used to influence behaviour to achieve economic and social objectives. CPA Australia is interested in research on the economic and social impacts of tax policy and innovation in the design of tax laws and tax administration.

Hot topics for 2018

  • Impact of technology: Digital technology and taxation, definition of residency
  • Tax reform options in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand
  • The future of dividend imputation
  • International corporate tax rate competition
  • Tax and housing affordability
  • Improving the taxation of trusts
  • EET model of taxing retirement savings

Financial planning and wealth management

Adequate retirement savings, wealth creation and protection, and management of personal and household finances are key to personal financial wellbeing. Ensuring these needs are met is in the public interest and is an overarching responsibility of the accounting profession.

Hot topics for 2018

  • Impact of technology on changing work and retirement patterns and increased life expectancy
  • Retirement savings adequacy
  • Interaction between retirement savings, aged care, health care and the family home
  • Superannuation versus non-superannuation savings
  • Unlocking equity in the family home
  • Comparative pension models

More information

Stage one applications for the funding program close on 31 July each year.