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Financial Translation: the Secrets You Need to Know

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  1. What to Do
  2. What Not to Do

Working in an international company requires doing a lot of translation work. Especially when it comes to financial reports, contracts, and board resolution. Financial translation’s main difficulty is that you need to find a specialist who would be aware of the accounting terminology in both languages. As it often happens, the same phenomena can be called differently in compliance with the legal and financial industries. Your translator should be able to use the appropriate terms and structure the sentences according to the international standards.



1. What to Do

International Standards

If your company is within the European Union, you know that there’s a strict requirement to support the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). These standards provide universal guidelines on how to prepare financial statements and disclose them. There are some differences between the IFRS and its equivalent in the US – Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). A translator should keep this in mind and avoid all possible errors. The ideal candidate for the position of an accounting translation specialist should be very attentive to details as s/he will be working with numbers. Forgetting to put another zero can result in a major misunderstanding.

Consistency and Relevance

Because of all the nuances with different terminology, it’s critical to be consistent with the translations time after time. If for some reason you can’t hire the same translator to cope with your financial documents every time, make sure you have a database with all the translation equivalents used in the previous reports. Nothing is more confusing than giving one term new names all the time.
One more point is the relevance of the terminology you use. The time flies by and there’s a need to check the changes in the international standards to use only up-to-date information.

Getting a Piece of Advice

It is not a rare situation for a financial translator to realize that there’s no equivalent for a term in a target language. It happens all the time. The professionals that are not that experienced mat simply take a synonym and place it into their translation. Sometimes that word fits and sometimes it doesn’t. An experienced translator would firstly consult with a colleague or look for some advice from other experts. That is why there are many communities and forums with translators communicating with each other and trying to find the answers to their questions.

Experience in Financial Translation

The previous experience of a translator you’re about to hire is crucial. Only if a person knows the necessary terminology and has worked with relevant topics before, will you be able to get a high-quality and accurate text. Besides, you’ll get it much faster as a translator won’t have to check every single term in a vocabulary. Look for the professionals with the financial expertise and you’ll be on the safe side. At TranslateShark, you’ll be able to find such experts and choose the one that fits the requirements of your order.

2. What Not to Do

Common Mistakes in Financial Translation

Now that you are familiar with the basic requirements to the financial translation, let’s explore some of the possible errors a translator might make. This information will help you check his/her work faster and spot the common mistakes without too much of an effort.

Usage of a comma


You may be surprised but a simple comma has a huge influence on the accuracy of a financial translation. It is used not only to separate the adjectives in an essay but to write numbers as well. And there is a huge difference between “1,100” in the US and Europe. For someone from New York, this number means one thousand one hundred. And for someone from Paris, this is a number a thousand times smaller. There are different rules of punctuation when in comes to numbers and your translator should know who is your target audience to avoid making mistakes.

Communicating wrong ideas

Even in the world of numbers, there might be some misunderstandings. It can be really difficult to get the meaning of the financial terms and interpret the language of finance in the right way. Some of the misinterpretations can cause huge problems and destabilize the financial environment within a particular company. Make sure the translation says exactly what it should. It’s very helpful to have an independent proofreading service that will take care of that.

Giving foggy instructions

The quality of the translation you’ll receive depends not only on a translator but on you as well. You need to provide an expert with specific and detailed instructions and communicate the result you expect to get. Do you need a certified translation of your documents or a simple summary? Are there some specific keywords you want a translator to use? Think everything through to avoid unpleasant mistakes.

Confidentiality issues

Some entrepreneurs may decide to use a free online translation tool to minimize the expenses. While the translation can be inaccurate, it’s not the main issue here. You might not know it, but every text you translate using Google Translate becomes part of Google’s domain. There is a high risk of violating the confidentiality policies and making some of the documents accessible to the third parties. It’s always better to use the service of a qualified translator.

Multiple meanings a foreign word can have


Any kind of translation should take the multiple meanings of foreign language words into consideration. If there are many ways in which a particular message can be interpreted, you need to make it ask clear as possible. A good example of not paying enough attention to this point is the case of HSBC bank and its slogan “Assume nothing”. In many languages, it was translated as “Do nothing”. Needless to say that the bank had to spend a considerable amount of money for rebranding.

Making some of these mistakes can cost you a fortune while others might have a negative influence on the reputation of your business. Turn to professional translators to minimize the risks of getting into an unpleasant situation. Our experts are always ready to help you.