Unlock the nuances of financial translation, from industry specifics to challenges. Learn how precision matters and discover tips for accurate translations. Trust the experts for 100% reliability.

The increasing demand for financial translation is undeniable. In the U.S., financial institutions must cater to the needs of individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP citizens).

And, while English continues to be the dominant language for business, financial institutions with a presence in other countries are obliged to provide information in local languages.

Financial translation fosters customer trust and ensures compliance with international rules and regulations. So, if you’re in banking, insurance, or any other area of finance, you are bound to need this service at some point.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the concept of financial translation, unravel its challenges, and provide tips to overcome them.

What is financial translation?

Financial translation is a specialized discipline in the field of economics and finance. It handles financial documents, statements, or content that need to be converted from one language to another.

Financial translation has its specific terminology, requiring specific knowledge. It demands accuracy, clarity, and compliance with different regulations.

What specific industries or areas does financial translation work in?

Financial translation is one of the most varied fields. It encompasses a wide range of documents from multiple niches, such as:

  • Banking – commodities, foreign exchange, and disclosures.
  • Business and Accountancy –business plans, balance sheets, and financial statements.
  • Investing – bonds, equities, and reports for the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Taxes – International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) documents and tax reports.
  • Insurance – regulatory documents, annual reports, and retirement plans
  • Fintech – mobile banking apps, service agreements, and user guides.
  • Crypto – smart contracts, wallet interfaces, regulatory compliance documents.

This list only gives you a glimpse of the diversity within financial translation. That’s why, when you need financial documents translated, you should always partner with an expert in your niche.

What are the main challenges financial translation poses?

These are some of the hindrances you’ll encounter when translating financial content.

  • A financial term in the same language may not mean the same in different countries. For instance, in the UK, government bonds are called gilts; in the US government bonds are known as treasury bills, or T-Bills.
  • Financial regulations vary by country. For instance, the use of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in Europe as opposed to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the United States.

And let’s not forget that regulations evolve, so you have to stay on top of regulatory developments in the target region.

  • Financial documents tend to contain highly technical and specialized terms. Translators must master financial concepts to convey the intended meaning.

If you’re struggling with a specific term, we may be able to help. Here are 9 glossaries and 3 multilingual resources for financial translation.

 When handling numerical data, meticulous attention to detail is a must. Mistakes such as using a comma as a decimal separator where a period is required compromise the financial integrity of the document.

  •  Translators must be aware of formatting differences. In Europe, a balance sheet begins with the long-term assets and liabilities, concluding with the short-term ones. In the United States, the order is the opposite.
  • The financial industry is fast-paced and translations are often needed for yesterday. Imagine your company needs to disclose its results on a specific date. You’ll need a translator you can rely on to meet your tight deadline.

What are the consequences of financial mistranslations?

In 2012, the Japanese company Sharp lost 10% of its value on the stock market due to a nuance misinterpretation in its quarterly report:

As operating and net loss for the six months ended September 30, 2012 were huge, continuing from the previous year, cash flows from operating activities were negative. Therefore, Sharp is in circumstances in which material doubt about its assumed going concern is found.

This was the intended message, which was correctly translated and published in the following days, leading to the company’s recovery:

As operating and net loss for the six months ended September 30, 2012 were huge, continuing from the previous year, cash flows from operating activities were negative. Therefore, there exist conditions which might raise uncertainties about Sharp being an assumed going concern. However, we judge that no uncertainties about Sharp’s ability to continue as a going concern will exist.

This example comes to prove that misinterpreting nuances in meaning when translating financial documents can have dire consequences.

How can you ensure the quality of your financial translations?

Here are three tips that will help you

  • Choose a translator with experience in your specific industry.

 Your translator should be a subject matter expert (SME) and have experience in your field. Otherwise, he/she may fail to grasp the content of a document containing industry-specific terms.

For instance, a translator specializing in fintech may struggle to translate a balance sheet or tax report.

To ensure that the translation doesn’t contain errors, another SME linguist should review it. This is key to ensuring the translated document is faithful to the source document and the terminology used is appropriate.

  •  Consider using Translation Memory (TM) technology.

The financial industry has evolved by leaps and bounds in the past 30 years. New financial instruments and concepts have appeared, resulting in new financial terms.

Now, such words may not have a name in your target language yet. You’ll need a translator with a good knowledge of the local market to come up with an appropriate rendition.

Precision is crucial when handling numbers. A misplaced comma means a world of difference. And the same applies to financial translation. The subtlest misinterpretation can profoundly impact your business.

Why take chances? Rely on an experienced language service provider for 100% accurate financial translations.


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