CPA Australia will consider bold and innovative projects in the following areas:

Accounting education

The quality of accounting education is vital to the continuing relevance of the profession. There are many aspects of accounting knowledge that remain perennially relevant, however, the demands on the skills of accountants in terms of the application, interpretation and communication of that knowledge changes dramatically in tune with world changes.

Technology advances, such as the emergence of big data, rapid, multi-faceted analysis and instant, borderless communication demand different skills from accountants. Social and political changes such as conflict, environmental sustainability, globalisation of markets, and people and wealth mobility demand different reporting perspectives and intercultural fluency. Accounting education faces challenges as it strives to define, teach and assess relevant knowledge, skills and abilities in a changing world.

Hot topics for 2017

  • Educating the accounting professional of the future
  • Development of financial literacy
  • Gamification of teaching and learning
  • Teaching and assessing soft skills
  • Globalisation and internationalisation
  • Determining what to teach and how to teach
  • Internationalising the curriculum
  • Innovative teaching practices
  • Indigenous education in accounting


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 2017

  • The future of reporting
  • Alternatives to financial reporting
  • The reporting entity concept
  • Non GAAP measures
  • Not-for-profits and charities
  • Regulator focus areas

Audit and assurance

Audit and assurance practice is evolving both in the way evidence is gathered and in the way audit practices are resourced, due largely to the use of data analytics and the possibilities that new technologies and big data offer. In financial report audit, firms are experiencing increasing pressure from regulators seeking improvements to audit quality and demonstration of professional scepticism. To remain relevant, auditors need to pre-empt moves towards new forms of external reporting which require assurance of non-financial information.

Hot topics for 2017

  • Developing and demonstrating professional scepticism 
  • Data analytics and continuous auditing
  • Audit quality indicators and transparency reporting
  • Effects of new auditor reporting requirements
  • Demand and benefits and shortcomings of non-financial assurance
  • Corporate outsourcing impact on audit evidence 
  • Effect of increased SMSF regulation in Australia

Environmental, social and governance

There is now substantial attention being paid to how aspects of environmental, social and governance (ESG) is 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 of the responsibility, scope, regulation and impact of business

Hot topics for 2017

  • 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 and pricing practices
  • Remuneration and other reward systems

Ethics and professionalism

Ethical behaviour and acting in the public interest are the overarching responsibilities of accounting 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 appropriate understanding and useful theories and models of organisational and accounting ethics.

Hot topics for 2017

  • Whistleblowing and public interest disclosures
  • Fraud and corruption
  • Behavioral ethics and professionalism
  • Objectivity, independence and conflicts of interest
  • Pressure to behave unethically
  • Influence of gifts, fees and donations
  • Fairness of tender processes
  • Compliance and value approaches for accounting ethics
  • Accounting and human rights
  • Ethics and the law

Business issues

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

Hot topics for 2017

  • Policy approaches to encourage fintech in different jurisdictions
  • Policy approaches to encourage startups in different jurisdictions
  • Cyber security
  • Outsourcing and automation
  • Managing disruption
  • Business succession
  • Social media and brand value
  • Evolution of the advisor
  • Location of corporate headquarters
  • Future of the work environment


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

Hot topics for 2017

  • Tax reform options in Australia and Hong Kong
  • The impacts of corporate tax rate cuts in different jurisdictions
  • Tax competition
  • Tax transparency
  • Transfer pricing
  • Base erosion and profit shifting
  • Introducing a consumption tax in Hong Kong
  • The future of dividend imputation
  • Tax and its impact on property prices
  • Improving the taxation of trusts
  • Different models for the taxation of superannuation

Financial planning and wealth management

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

Hot topics for 2017

  • Retirement savings adequacy
  • Superannuation versus non-superannuation savings
  • Pension model comparative
  • Investment products
  • Investment strategies
  • Fiduciary relationships
  • Unlocking equity in the family home

CPA Australia will consider bold and innovative projects in areas other than those listed if they have merit and potential.