The risk of lagging behind in adopting artificial intelligence has emerged as a concern among financial directors of top-100 firms, according to research published today. However more traditional concerns - led by pressure from clients to cut fees - are seen as the biggest challenge to profitablity.

A survey of financial directors by legal information company Thomson Reuters found that 28% of respondents see falling behind their rivals in implementing artificial intelligence technology as 'a significant risk to profitability'. The most frequently cited threats were 'downward pressure from clients' (46%) and 'competition between law firms' (39%).

As a response to such pressures, 69% of the financial directors polled said they would be likely to cut unprofitable services over the coming year, up from 42% looking to make cuts five years ago.

Other possible measures to improve profitability that may be taken over the next year include:

  • 56% would be likely to put more work through junior staff to improve profitability
  • 50% would use technology in more areas of their business as a means to cut costs
  • 47% would be likely to make lateral hires of senior teams from rival firms

Meanwhile 57% of finance directors predicted growth in intellectual property work in the next year, up from just 8% in last year's survey. Areas of work expected to contract were led by commercial property and construction.