Translating financial documents: doing it right

The financial sector has a language of its own – in every country. That’s why it can be easy to translate a document from one language to another and get things spectacularly wrong, with the result being a big dent in your company’s image.

The sheer range of texts can lead to confusion between terminology and purpose – business reports, financial statements, investment reports, contracts, regulatory submissions, media communications … the list goes on. For a company that is obliged to issue all these types of documents, there is a critical need for consistency across all their company literature. Otherwise, a less-than-professional image will be presented and that can have serious implications, especially in terms of the regulatory environment.

International Financial Reporting Standards, for example, demand certain terminology which has to be consistent across all the text included in financial statements. But there are other standards and jurisdictions which have their own requirements. Use the wrong term and the user of the document can be misled. And that can mean trouble.

Financial documents are often packed with numbers. These have to be shown in the right way for the target jurisdiction and, of course, not unintentionally altered during the translation process. You, as the owner of the document, are legally responsible for the quality and accuracy of the information you issue, but your life will be much easier if you know that your business woman with clocklanguage service provider (LSP) can be relied on not to make inappropriate changes.

So your LSP has delivered a wonderfully translated press release, exactly as you wanted. There’s just one problem: it’s a day after the markets were expecting it. What’s worse, the message you wanted to spread was one of stability and control. Just as important as the quality of the product is the punctuality of its delivery. If only you had known that your LSP only had one expert financial translator …

What a good LSP can offer:

Specialised, expert translators

As we’ve seen, one of the problems with financial translating is the accuracy of the language used, which is specific to the jurisdiction. This means that for the translation to be accurate, a great deal of specialist knowledge can be required. The only way to acquire this is from experience in the industry. You should ensure not just that your LSP offers experienced, expert translators, but also that they will use them on your documents.

Dedicated focus on the text to be translated

It’s easy for an LSP to say they have the resources to deliver high-quality results, but if the organisation’s main focus is on marketing texts for a select group of preferred clients then there is a risk that they won’t devote the right attention to your company report or investment document. A focus on financial translations requires that the LSP commit itself to ensuring its staff understand the industry and the type of text thoroughly, making the resources available, on time, and in the right number, to do the job well.

Peer review by other experts in the field before delivery to the client

It’s one thing for a translator to produce a good translation, but that’s usually not the end of the process – that good translation has to get to the client. That means that during the review process, all those wonderful technical terms that are specific to the jurisdiction of the target language have to be there. If the reviewer is unfamiliar with the subject, the industry or the financial particularities of the target language then there’s a risk that those terms might be changed. And the client gets a text that no longer meets the required standard. An LSP has to ensure that the review process is carried out by staff who are also expert in the topic, and that a “peer review” really is a “peer review”.

Company infrastructure geared to quality, consistency and deadline-compliance

So your LSP has sent you a translated annual report and you’re very happy with it. You plan to send the next one to them when it becomes available. But how can you be sure that the next document will be just as good? For that, the LSP’s focus has to be on providing the framework to ensure consistency – well-managed translation memories, glossaries, access to specialist translators, strong communication and internal resource planning. These are of fundamental importance, but they are not something that every organisation can guarantee.

To ensure that the result of your financial translation process is positive, you need to find an LSP who has the experience, infrastructure, up-to-date expertise and commitment to deliver an appropriate product, consistently. And once you’ve done that, it’s well worth keeping them.

Peter Riley, Head of Financial Translation

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