In an increasingly globalised world, corporate organisations have business locations across the globe, whether small local branches or international headquarters. These locations have to produce documentation to meet local requirements, be they stipulated by law or simply by commercial demands. You might think, for example, that in financial documents for regulatory purposes, the numbers are the important factor. That is true, of course, but making sure the message from key executives that accompanies the numbers comes across as intended can be just as critical. But what happens if that message is given a different twist in a translated version, or if the language used in marketing material is not appropriate for the product in the desired market? With the requirement for international companies to report their performance and market themselves across a range of cultures and in multiple languages, the translator’s role is taking on increasing significance.
Getting the message across means making sure you have the right people using the correct tools and terminology. And the more complex or esoteric a topic, the harder it is to get this combination right.
Creating the business report for a reinsurer with subsidiaries around the world or marketing a new fund solution to multiple jurisdictions is complex and demanding, with the needs of a wide range of users to be borne in mind. It requires a translator with a wealth of experience in the subject matter and the appropriate language skills to understand both the original document and the translated document’s target audience. This allows the end product to match the expectations of the reader and present the information clearly. Without a feel for – and an understanding of – the meaning of the numbers or information presented, the translator risks creating an impression that is inconsistent with the original text and the numbers involved.
Technology needs to play a larger role in financial translation. Terminology databases in conjunction with computer-assisted translation (CAT) applications offer the ability to store key or preferred terms across a variety of languages and to present those to the translator whenever the source term appears. This ensures a high level of consistency and, provided the terms stored are correct, accuracy in the translated document. It also improves clarity for the user.
We have all seen documents that use different terms for the same item, and while this may have its literary justification, it is confusing for those obliged to make financial or legal decisions based on the meaning of the text. The more extensive a terminology database, the more helpful it is, and if a translator has the chance to build a long-term partnership with the organisation commissioning the translation, a comprehensive database can be built up over time. This not only reduces the time needed to produce the translation, but also increases its consistency.
In summary, given the need for accuracy and consistency in financial documents, there is a strong case for translators building long-term partnerships with their clients. This will lead to the best-possible quality in all financial translation.
Peter Riley, Head of Financial Translations