For risk-averse accountants and chief financial officers, change can be hard. But artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies are coming, and financial officers who don’t adapt may find themselves left behind.

“Finance people tend to be inherently conservative. Managing risk is always going to be at the core of the finance role,” said Myles Corson, Global and Americas Strategy and Markets Leader for Financial Accounting Advisory Services at Ernst & Young. This is especially true when the technology is moving faster than regulation. “There will need to be guardrails and CFOs would like to see where information is being shared,” Mr. Corson said.

Yet while an AI-generated chatbot’s readiness for large-scale adoption in the finance function remains in question, doing nothing isn’t an option. A recent Gartner study predicts that by 2026 AI and automation will result in half of all new employees hired by top-performing corporate finance functions having backgrounds other than finance or accounting. In today’s finance function, 18% of finance staff demonstrate digital competency, compared with just 11% of their managers.