The Art of Financial Translation Services

Working for a busy translation agency, I have had the privilege of working with a wide variety of clients and customers, all with diverse needs and requirements. Over the course of an average day, it would be fair to say that no two assignments are ever the same. One area where we do receive a significant amount of requests is in the field of financial translation. Financial translation refers to the broad area involving the translation of financial documents. This can vary from the translation of financial reports, to technical terms and conditions found within financial documents through to excel spreadsheets detailing a company’s profit and loss data. It’s a service that both individuals and organisations may require. Big organisations that are looking to have representation in a foreign market may need to have the financial reports of a potential acquisition translated; similarly an individual may need their own financial details translated if they are looking to relocate or make a significant purchase in a non-native country.

Like all fields of translation, accuracy of the financial translation is greatly enhanced by the use of a mother tongue linguist who has skills, experience in the financial industry. Typically, a good financial translator will hold some form of financial/business qualification such as an MBA, accountancy qualifications or consultancy qualifications. Before choosing your financial services translation provider, as in all fields of translation, there are a number of factors to consider. This article looks at the issues that can affect your choice of supplier and things to take into consideration prior to placing work with them.

Often, financial translations involve material that is of a private and confidential nature. The material may be due for publication on a set date, but prior release is forbidden. It is vitally important then, when determining who to use as you translation supplier, that the supplier you choose is able to fulfill any requirements you have regarding confidentiality and non-disclosure. Using an agency rather than an individual translator may be of benefit here. Agencies typically have access to a number of suppliers and can handle multiple documents. They are likely to have confidentially agreements already in place with all their suppliers that govern the disclosure of the work and therefore you would only need to provide one confidentiality agreement for the entire project – between you and the agency. The other obvious benefit of using is an agency is the ability of the agency to handle multiple documents into a number of languages.

If your documents have a lot of repeated text throughout them or you have clauses (such as in terms and conditions) that you need to have repeated at specific intervals within in your financial documents, it is worth finding out if your proposed supplier is able to handle translation memory. Translation memory (TM) is a software application process that will look for duplication in your document and prompt the translator to reuse this duplicate text when and where needed. One of the big benefits of using TM is that it helps with the consistency of your document as well as potentially reducing the overall cost of the project.

In addition to using translation memory it would also be worth investigating if your proposed suppliers have access to relevant financial dictionaries. The financial industry uses many complex terms, anachronism and phrases that are not widely used outside the industry. It is therefore vitally important that the translators undertaking your assignment are not only aware of this terminology, but have access to the resources that explain what they mean. Simply Googling a specific terms is often not enough to get the required definition, and a good translator will have access to a wide range of dictionaries specific to their areas of expertise.

Another key consideration already outlined at the start of this piece is the use of skilled translators. Professional translators will often specialise in one specific area, and a skilled translator will not only have language qualifications, but also a qualification in their area of expertise. As described, a typical qualification for a financial translator can include an MBA or accountancy qualification. Prior to choosing your translation provider it would be worth consulting with them to find out what typical qualifications their financial translators hold.

As mentioned above, if your assignment is fairly lengthy it would be worth considering the use of an agency in preference to an individual translator. It may be that your project is required in multiple languages or the output is needed in a specific file type, such as print ready or XML. Here an agency is likely to have the advantage in terms of its access to resources, usually being able to manage multiple languages in multiple files types. It would be worth confirming that your selected language provider is able to handle specific file types and has the resources in house to be able to output into the desired format.

For individuals who need to have financial documentation translated for legal/compliancy reasons, I always recommend confirming the scope of the requirements with the body that have requested the translations. For example if you are looking to emigrate to a foreign country and part of the application process stipulates you need to have bank statements translated, it is worth confirming how much of the statements are needed (e.g., all figures contained within the document or just the text). It may be that as well as translation your documents require rekeying and certification, all of which can add to the overall cost of the assignment.

Financial translation is a broad area within the translation industry and when done well is performed by a professional financial language expert. Finding the right supplier who can fulfill your requirements is key and as illustrated above prior to sourcing a suitable supplier it is worth confirming the scope of your requirements and the suitability of the proposed supplier to match these requirements.

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