Best Practices and Top Tips for Financial Translations

Industries such as, banking, law, medicine, insurance and finance are specialist sectors that deal with technical terminology on a daily basis. If you add translation into this mix, you’re looking at a highly complex procedure which requires total accuracy and industry understanding.

Financial translations are among the most complex of the above group; the innovative industry requires constant adaption with new tech frequently created and terminology evolving alongside this.

To complete an accurate financial translation, a translator must have in-depth knowledge of current terminology and trends, and excellent linguistic skill in both the source, and target, language.

If you are likely to require financial translations now, or at some point in the near future, the following information gives advice for best practices and some top tips for ensuring you choose the right Language Services Provider with whom to partner for your project.



What are Financial Translations?

The term ‘Financial Translations’ covers a wide range of translation projects within the financial sector or linked to business finance.

For instance, this could be a bank providing multilingual updated terms and conditions to its customers or end of year accounts translated for key stakeholders.

There are numerous different types of financial translations but, whichever type you require, you’ll need it to be as accurate as possible, with the correct terminology.

Types of financial translations might include:

• Annual Audits and reports

• Business plans

• Financial forecasts

• Income statements

• Balance sheets

• Equities

• Foreign exchange

• Tax documents, statements and reports

• Insurance documents

• Financial agreements

• Retirement plans

• Property deeds, plans and other documents

• Disclaimers

As you can imagine, this list could go on for some time, so the translator or Language Services Provider (LSP) selected for the project must have sector-specific knowledge and be familiar with current terminology and concepts.



Choosing a Translator for your Financial Translations

There are probably hundreds of thousands of translators worldwide offering financial translations, however, just because they offer this service, it doesn’t mean they are the right choice for your project.

Consider the following points before making your selection:

1. What experience do they have with this type of translation project?

2. Can they show you previous examples of their work?

3. Are many of their existing clients linked to the finance sector?

4. Do they have experience/qualifications linked to the finance sector?

5. Do they use native speaking translators?

6. Do they offer quality assurance?

7. How much will it cost?

8. What can you expect the quality/accuracy to be?

9. Do they specialise in your required target and source languages?

10. What is the expected turnaround time?

Ask lots of questions of your selected translator or LSP to ensure they are the best fit for your project. A professional translation team will be used to dealing with these types of questions and should be able to provide answers quickly.



Common Problems to Avoid with Financial Translations

While English is still often the first-choice language for many global finance and banking firms when conducting international business, this doesn’t mean that every document, letter, statement, meeting or conference will be predominantly in English.

It is more likely that you will require a multitude of languages at any one time.

Choosing a translator or LSP that can offer translators, interpreters and linguists in many languages can be helpful and avoids the problem of having to source a new translator for each language you need.

Choosing the right LSP to work with means there are likely to be fewer problems but there are some potential pitfalls that are very common with financial translations. These include:

1. Punctuation Mistakes – punctuation is really important when using figures and mistakes can be costly. For instance, in English 1,000 is equivalent to one thousand but 1.000 means just 1. To add to the confusion, this isn’t the case in every language!

2. Mistranslating Words – of course numbers are important for financial translations but don’t forget words must be correctly translated too. HSBC recently found this out to their cost when their slogan “Assume Nothing” was mistranslated to “Do Nothing”. It cost millions to rebrand after a simple one-word translation error.

3. Short and Long Scale Values – there are two types of value systems used when writing numbers as words, the short and long scale. Knowing which system is being used for certain languages is vital and can be the difference between 1 million or 1 trillion! English and Arabic speaking countries tend to use the short scale, but many European countries favour the long scale.


These tips only cover the basics of financial translations so if you require more insights or would like to talk to a member of expert translation team, please contact us.

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