5 reasons why translating financial content is so tricky

When it comes to translating material for finance firms, there are a number of difficulties that crop up, making the job quite challenging.

1. Specialised material

Think financial reports, merger & acquisition material, compliance documents, price sheets, corporate communications…Each of these pieces are very different compared to the likes of marketing material or technical manuals, and each type of document poses its own challenge. The original files may be delivered in different formats, such as Word, InDesign, Excel or PDF, and each of these will be processed differently in order to be translated correctly.

2. Specific terminology

Translating terminology, and doing so consistently, is a major challenge in the finance world. To be able to translate documents such as financial statements, the linguist must have an in-depth understanding of the specific terms that are used, and not just in one country, but in two or more. To retain consistency, it is also important that these terms are translated in the same way across different documents – quarterly and annual reports must use the same words for example.

Not only must terminology be consistent across company documents, but it must also comply with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) issued by the IASB, the International Accounting Standards Board, and endorsed by the European Union. Linguists must be up-to-date with IFRS changes, as all translated versions are legally binding.

Glossaries and translation memories (TMs) can be a great help in retaining consistency. This means that even if different linguists are working on translations for the same client – consistency will be maintained and inaccuracies will be reduced, as specific terms are saved in one database.

3. Working with numbers

It’s one thing ensuring terms are translated consistently, but when it comes to finance – numbers are equally, if not more important. You can’t accidentally move, delete or add any numbers when it comes to translating financial documents, or the entire document could be rendered inaccurate.

It’s also important to consider how decimals, dates and currencies are handled in different countries, and to ensure consistency of usage throughout the document. Should you write June 17, 2015 or 17 June 2015? And should you write $600 or USD 600?

4. Tight deadlines

Often in the financial world, reports need to be released as soon as the figures are, and this can only mean one thing for translation companies – high volumes of work to be turned around very quickly. Annual reports and financial statements often have fixed release dates, so this can put pressure on translators to work quickly to meet strict deadlines. It’s important to acknowledge the calendars of finance firms, and to plan in accordance with this.

5. Confidentiality

Finance firms often deal with confidential information, from both their clients, and from their own company. If finance reports need to be translated before they are released, Language Service Providers need to handle this information in a confidential manner. All translators working on the projects should also have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place, and should have signed Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to ensure data protection.

The way documents are handled should also be as secure as possible. Rather than sending unencrypted emails containing sensitive information to linguists, a reliable and trust-worthy Language Service Provider should have secure Translation Management Systems in place to ensure that documents cannot be uploaded and downloaded, but remain safe within the system.


It’s essential that financial clients work with a trusted Language Service Provider who has experience working with a variety of financial documentation in an array of formats. Terminology management is an integral part of financial translation, so it’s essential that linguists have extensive knowledge and expertise within the financial industry, in order to obtain the best quality within the most demanding deadlines. Lastly, and probably most importantly – financial documentation must be kept safe and secure, whether that’s on the clients’ side or the linguists’ side.

Make sure you select a Language Service Provider who can meet your needs in terms of cost, quality and time, but also in terms of security.



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