What is finance translation?

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Doing business in an international setting comes with a lot of challenges. Each country has its own tax regulations, business strategies and legal requirements that complicate business procedures. Companies rely on finance translators to make sure their business documents are clear and accurate in multiple languages so that everyone is on the same page.

Finance translation is a unique specialisation that requires a specific skillset, and by understanding what it is and what makes it challenging, you can avoid common pitfalls and find the right finance translation service for you.

What does finance translation entail?

In each language, the world of finance has its own terminology that everyday people find hard to understand. This means that translating any text that involves numbers, accounting, banking information or financial concepts might require financial expertise to make sure the content is accurate. Finance translators take into account the original and target languages’ idiosyncrasies and provide accurate translations that all parties can understand.

Documents requiring finance translation

There are many reasons why individuals and businesses might need finance translations. Personal business and finance documents, such as income statements and tax declarations, often need to be translated so that people can buy homes, make investments or move to foreign countries.

For multinational companies, finance translation is needed on a daily basis. Some of the most common finance documents that undergo translation include:

  • Banking transactions
  • Invoices and purchase orders
  • Venture capital deals
  • Annual reports
  • Business proposals
  • Tax reports, declarations and audits
  • Insurance claims and investments
  • Cash flow statements
  • Financial reporting
  • Shareholder summaries

Sometimes, business document translation in other specialities might require input from an experienced financial translator. For example, if you are developing a fund prospectus or business requirements document, you might need the expertise of both a legal translator and a financial translator. Or, if you are developing a budget for a multimillion-dollar research project, you might consult with a scientific translator and a financial translator.

What makes finance translation unique?

Finance translation is distinctive because it requires sector-specific knowledge and high levels of accuracy. As with legal translation, financial and business translation require translators to have up-to-date experience in the specific industry they translate in. For example, a translator with a background in personal investment is probably not familiar with the terminology and regulations related to insurance claims, and an international tax specialist might not have a strong understanding of venture capital deals. This means that you should work with a finance translator with the right background for your project.

In addition to sector-specific knowledge, they should be familiar with local laws, regulations and financial practices, as well as cultural factors that could impact the accuracy of translations. An example that commonly arises is Spanish translation. More than 20 countries have Spanish as an official language, so you should work with a Spanish-language translator familiar with the region you’re working in and make sure they have a good grasp of the current financial terms and practices there.

Common errors

Inaccurate finance translation can cause catastrophic financial and legal problems for businesses. A company’s reputation can be seriously damaged if it provides mistranslated documents, so it’s helpful to be aware of the most common missteps. When dealing with numbers and financial information, translators have to be careful to avoid these mistakes:

  • Applying incorrect terminology
  • Misinterpreting financial data
  • Using the wrong format

Different languages and regions express numbers differently, and an inexperienced finance or business language translator might not be familiar with certain terminology and conventions. For example, some countries use commas to separate thousands, whereas others use full stops. And the meaning of “one billion” is different in Europe and the United States.

It’s also crucial to understand typical formats used in the original and target languages. Contract or account statement information that is commonplace in one region might not exist in another, and translators need to know what to do in these cases.

What are some best practices in finance translation?

When you work with finance translators, you should pay attention to their procedures to make sure they follow best practices.

1. Hands-on experience: Financial translators should have real-life experience in the region and sector they translate for. If they are translating banking documents, they should have experience in banking in your target country.

2. Continuing education: Terminology can change just as quickly as technology. Translators should be able to demonstrate that they are maintaining current knowledge of any linguistic, technological and cultural developments impacting the finance sector in their speciality.

3. Confidentiality: Most translations related to finance contain sensitive and proprietary information. Individuals working in finance translation should know how to keep documents secure and private, and they should be willing to provide information about their workflows and confidentiality procedures upon request.

4. Speed and accuracy: Although having accurate translations is of utmost importance, speed is usually a crucial factor in the finance industry. Top-notch translation services will understand these requirements, and they should be able to provide their services at a reasonable speed without sacrificing accuracy.

How can you find the right finance translation agency?

The most important step is to find a translation company that is happy to discuss its best practices and provide information about its processes. It should have experts from the specific financial industry and geographical regions needed for your project.

In addition to having native-level skills in the original and target languages, the translators should also have real-life experience in the specific financial niche you need. This will help them to understand the cultural and linguistic context of your documents, as well as any legal and financial differences between the two regions.

Another important factor is speed and language availability. If you need a lot of complicated text translated quickly, larger agencies are often more equipped to get the work done well and one time. If you need translations in multiple languages and sectors, working with a one-stop shop that can provide you with all your needs can streamline the process, saving you an enormous amount of time, money and effort.

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