Financial translation is a form of specialist technical translation in the financial field and related working areas, topics, forms of expression, linguistic peculiarities, specific jargon, etc. Financial translation services are used when translating the types of documents commonly found in the sector (annual accounts, tenders, audit reports, etc.) from one language to another, free of mistakes and with quality guaranteed. To do this, it's important to enlist an experienced professional, backed up by an agency with the organisational and technical capacity to optimise both the task and the results.
Our older readers will remember that simple and catchy adage, the business of business is business. So, let's allow ourselves to paraphrase a little, bringing it into our own context; the business of business translation is... financial translation.
We're talking about the very backbone of business: the finances, founded on accounts, markets and transactions. The types of documents where the numbers matter, the risk is real and the value counts. A lot. And this is where effective financial translation services are worth their weight in gold. If you still haven't grasped the magnitude, you should have a better idea of it after reading this. We'll explain everything you need to know about financial translation (and we'll keep it short and sweet): the what, why, when... and of course the who of this type of translation.
What is financial translation?
Let's start from the top. This is a type of technical translation and, as such, has its own specific context (this could be a scope of activity, professional group, knowledge area, certain products or processes, etc.). This context will, as a general rule, have its own language, specific to the area in both form and substance.
In this case, it's the financial territory, and frankly, 'financial lingo' may as well be double Dutch to the uninitiated. So, financial translation is the discipline specialising in translating financial texts or those directly related to the fields of economics, accounting, taxation, etc.
Let's take a look at a simple example you might come across in financial translation: 'leverage' has different meanings in the financial and other worlds; everyone working in, or related to, the sector knows this - in the same way that they would know that the English word 'trading' is often used in Spanish texts. But does your typical translator know that?
Why do you need a financial translation service?
Clearly, the reason behind any organisation requesting financial translation services is its international scope: the need to translate materials or content drafted in their own language into a foreign language, or conversely, the need to translate content or materials in another language into one they understand.
The key word here is 'understanding', in sufficient depth (avoiding superficialities, inaccuracies or ambiguities). Ultimately, the aim is to comprehend complex concepts, use the right terminology, and convey meanings with all their nuances. Why? Because errors and inaccuracies should be avoided at all costs, given the difficulties and headaches that could ensue. It's something you simply can't afford.
When it comes to differences in legalities and compliance across jurisdictions, this is particularly crucial. In various circumstances (we'll look at some later), financial documents need to be aligned with the regulatory requirements of a specific foreign country. And that means adapting not only the language in the document in question, but also adapting it to comply with regulations.
Think about the automotive industry: there are general mechanics, but also mechanics who are experts in electronics, bodywork, suspension, spare parts, etc. Well, it's the same in the translation world; there are experts in different areas. And for the same reason, when you need to hire someone for a task requiring specialisation, it's best to speak to the specialists.
Financial and economic translation... one and the same?
In the broadest of senses, they could be considered to be the same thing. Even in the translation world, the two terms are often used interchangeably, so it wouldn't be strange to find a range of financial translation services under both names.
Now for the nitty-gritty. Just as there are differences between economics and finance, strictly speaking you could say that financial translation is more concerned with the exchange of capital, in a more applied sense; management, planning and decision-making for investments, spending and savings, administration, profit and risk, monetary values over time, etc. To the extent that economic translation could be seen as more of a theoretical endeavour, in the field of social sciences, whereas financial translation (a branch) would be more closely related to institutions (companies and public entities) and linked to markets, commerce, banking and stock market activities.
What type of documents does financial translation involve?
Perhaps the best way to understand exactly what financial translation consists of is to see some examples of documents that professionals commonly deal with in this area.
- Annual reports for shareholders.
- Documents related to mergers and acquisitions.
- Feasibility studies when presenting projects to board members.
- Holdings reports for investment funds.
- Accounting records, particularly annual accounts.
- Tax returns and other tax documents.
- Audit reports.
- Profit and loss reports for the planning and analysis department.
- Financial proposals or specifications for international bids and tenders.
- Technical-financial documentation in the insurance field.
- Financial aspects of agreements and contracts.
- Presentations and promotional materials for potential partners, investors and customers.
When do you need a financial translation service?
As we said before, if you want a translation you can rely on, you should request financial translation services. Let's take a look at some real cases and examples where financial translation is paramount, just to clear things up.
- A Spanish startup is seeking venture capital. The interested party or organisation - let's say it's Russian - is going to request a business plan. Standard. Translated into Russian, naturally.
- A Belgian import/export business has a promising opportunity for growth in Spain and emerging African markets. They've requested information on customs duty regulations... in five different languages.
- An Italian company specialising in the property sector has a strong portfolio of international customers across Europe, so they offer a multilingual invoicing service to provide added value.
- An Asian government requests an exhaustive report related to its new capital control policy from all European companies with subsidiaries in its territory.
- An international conglomerate is planning to invest in infrastructures in Spain, and to do so it needs - among other things - the National Audit Office's mandatory report.
What traits does a financial translator need?
It goes without saying that a good financial translator will above all be familiar with the style of the language, but also with the structure and content of typical financial documents. And (of course) the terminology and the specifics of its use.
Translators who specialise in economic or financial translation will often have had experience of the financial world, generally through their education or career. This is a plus for you, because their background will help them understand both the projects and the customer's objectives.
In this field in particular, it's incredibly important that translators approach their task with rigour, and know equally well how to document everything (how, where and when to do it). Perhaps we're stating the obvious, but confidentiality is a given (this is always the case, but even more so when working with information that may be particularly sensitive).
One last detail: Do you need a sworn translator? As in other cases in Spain, financial translations will need to be sworn if they are intended for use in an official capacity, or being presented before any public or private entities that demand it, but this isn't the case in more general circumstances.
You're probably reading this because you need help translating financial documents for your company. We wholeheartedly recommend you always work with a translation company with experience in financial translation. This way, you can make sure you get the highest quality results.
If you're not sure whether you need a sworn translation or not, it's best to ask a translation agency. As well as dealing with all sorts of financial documents on an ongoing basis, we're familiar with administrative and legal regulations and procedures worldwide. And if we come across a rare and specific case we haven't encountered before, we'll know exactly where to find the resources we need to find out the answers, and get it right.
Entrust your business translations to a financial translation agency
From a balance sheet to a stock market report, a brochure or financial product key information document, if the language is posing a barrier, and you want to overcome it successfully, it's probably time to hire an agency offering financial translation services.
Translation agencies have a team of qualified professionals working in different specialisations, including the one your business needs. And as well as having a whole boatload of case studies and success stories, they will work with computer-assisted translation tools (not machine translation!) to ensure consistency and quality assurance in their professionals' work, at the same time as speeding up the process and lowering the costs.
In financial any translation - just like any other type - the ideal professional agency is one that can handle large volumes of work without neglecting the finer details of each document, which has the structure and capacity to all this with that all-important goal in mind: aside from the cost and time savings, above all, you'll get quality.
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