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Financial Translations the Easy Way

What do international banks, investment banks, private banks, banks for corporate clients, and finance departments of large enterprises have in common? They all need specialized translations on which they and their clients can rely!

The good news for translators: The order volume for the financial industry has reached an all-time high. The "Slator 2018 Financial Industry Report" sees the potential for language services and technology in the financial industry at a volume of US$1.17 billion.

However, financial translations are by no means easy to prepare. This article draws attention to the special characteristics of financial translations and the criteria that prospective translators or language service providers need to fulfill to ensure high translation quality and data security.

Characteristics of Financial Translations

Financial translations are as diverse as the customers and target groups. The range includes shareholders, suppliers, customers, accounts payable, competitors, analysts, as well as interested members of the public. In view of this diversity, financial translations must be handled with due care.

Challenges of financial translations:

  • The topics are highly complex and diverse; not every financial translator can handle all subject areas.

  • Delivery deadlines are tight, and the text volume is usually high.

  • The quality management must be flawless.

  • Financial losses can be incurred if the company does not ensure due data security.

  • Flawed translations can result in a reputation damage for the client company.

Subjects and Languages

The most common subjects and text types include business reports, due diligence and audit reports, compliance documentation, ad-hoc notifications, executive board communication, and analyst reports. Legal translations may also be a subcategory of financial translations, e.g. in connection with mergers and acquisitions.

The main language of such financial reports and corporate publications is English. Thus, translations are usually prepared in one direction, namely from English to another language or, more frequently, vice versa.

Procurement Models

Customers can choose from various procurement models and translation techniques. For example, companies can make use of in-house translators or might even have a dedicated language service department. Alternatively, they might need to make use of external resources such as freelance translators, translation agencies, or translation companies that have a team of in-house translators.

Some companies even have their translations done by bilingual employees who also have other responsibilities. However, in view of the complexity of this subject area, this is not recommended. Just because an employee is bilingual, this does not automatically mean that he is able to translate demanding texts.

Time Schedule

Business report translations are subject to seasonal fluctuations. When planning and preparing business reports, customers should therefore remember that financial translators have a tight schedule during this time. It might be helpful to book the translator in advance in order to comply with the publication date and avoid delays.

For the German market, some companies publish their financial reports, capital market information on investment assets, business reports, and share prices in the Federal Gazette. Companies can additionally save time and money by working with a specialized language service provider. Some language service providers are specialized in formatting reports according to the requirements of the Federal Gazette and are able to take care of this step both for the source texts and for the translations.

The Selection of Translators or Language Service Providers

Before choosing a translator or language service provider, it would be good to examine the following three key criteria:

  • Translation skills of the potential translator

  • Availability of tried-and-tested quality management

  • Data security measures employed

The Translation Level

Companies can obtain the best results by commissioning qualified translators. The translators should have long-standing experience in the fields of finance, business, and law and have access to reliable databases for financial terminology, e.g. in the fields of HGB, IAS/IFRS, UGB, and GAAP. Moreover, it would be beneficial for companies to provide their translators with style guides and terminology databases for the respective corporate language in order to make sure the corporate identity is duly conveyed in the translation.

The subjects and text types of financial documents, e.g. business reports, quarterly reports, or annual financial statements, are often of a recurring and repetitive nature. For this reason, well-maintained terminology databases, translation memories, and reference documents are a must. They enable consistent translations and can save money, as recurring sentences are usually not billed at the full rate.

Quality Management of Financial Translations

Certified processes in line with the requirements for translation services according to ISO 17100 as well as requirements for quality management systems according to ISO 9001 make every translation project infinitely scalable in terms of the scope and number of language combinations.

Furthermore, the quality of every single order must be ensured. Translation management systems enable the effective coordination of orders and a wide range of quality management measures. It would also be advisable to have expert native speakers double-check financial translations against the source text.

The actors of the financial industry need to determine which translation methods are most suitable for their needs. For highly confidential documents, it might be advisable to temporarily engage an in-house financial translator of a translation service provider in the company.

For less sensitive subjects or to process large amounts of information, it might be sufficient to use machine translation methods in conjunction with post-editing. It is also possible to combine human translation with partly automated translation solutions. The key point is that the translation should serve the customer's purpose and be governed by his priorities—quality, price, or speed.

The guidance provided by a language service provider can help a company to define translation processes and set priorities.

Data Security of Financial Translations

Especially in the case of listed prime standard companies as well as other financial enterprises that handle highly confidential or secret data, secure data storage is a must. It should be made sure that the language provider complies both with the local data protection provisions in the respective country and with the GDPR, protecting personal data and maintaining insider lists. In this way, the data route can be traced in the event of incidents such as premature publication.

Furthermore, all permanent and freelance staff should be asked to sign non-disclosure agreements. The language service provider should have taken the needed technical and organizational measures to ensure secure data transfer routes.

Another important aspect is that when requesting quotations, customers should not directly send confidential contracts or other sensitive documents to language service providers they do not know by e-mail or via a platform of the language service provider. Customers should first check out the encryption level and have an NDA signed.


Financial translations are growing in importance, but are very complex in nature. The subject area is highly diversified and comprises numerous subareas. For this reason, companies should select a cooperation partner that suits their needs.

Customers must opt for one of several procurement models, taking key criteria such as the translation skills, the quality management measures, and the data security at the potential provider into consideration. Good preparation is vital to ensure the success of demanding translation projects.

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