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  • Finance translation services: 7 key mistakes to avoid

    Adapting financial documentation to another language poses many challenges. To earn the trust of potential investors and customers, translations must be correct, compliant and confidential. Additionally, time is of the essence in such a fast-paced industry. So, what best practices can companies learn from those offering finance translation services? We’ve highlighted 7 common translation errors and how you can avoid them.

    1. Beginning finance translations without considering the source content

    Finance translation services must be comprehensive and address the issues that could arise before they occur. If your strategy or translation isn’t right the first time, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board and risk going over budget. A clean source document makes the translation process smooth and simple. Be sure to read through the text and identify important terminology for the translators to implement.  

    2. Disregarding the target audience

    Narrowing down the intended readers and keeping them in mind while translating avoids revisions at later stages that could have been prevented. After all, content geared towards the general public would not look the same as for experts. Using unknown acronyms and jargon could alienate your new audience. Research by Lloyds Bank found that more than half of adults in the UK were keen to invest, but a lack of understanding of terminology was a barrier for no less than 31% of respondents. Despite widespread media coverage, 29% don’t understand what “inflation” means.  

    If readers can’t make sense of your translation, they won’t have the confidence to adopt your products or services. That’s why it’s important to research your target audience and use plain language where needed for better communication. Financial translation examples in your target market will give you an idea of how documents are typically presented. 

    3. Relying on non-specialists instead of professional finance translators

    Finance translation covers a wide range of documents, with some calling for additional types of expertise like legal or even marketing. While a translator may excel in localizing technical manuals and know the importance of quality and consistency, they would struggle to achieve the same results in an unfamiliar field. Adequately conveying financial concepts calls for solid background knowledge. Take, for example, terms with multiple meanings or translations. In an English-to-French translation, “balance” can refer to the amount in an account (“solde”), the amount outstanding (“somme due” or “reste à payer”), or the act of equalizing debits and credits (“équilibrer”). Non-specialists also find it challenging to differentiate between terms that may appear to have the same meaning (e.g., “cost allocation”, “cost apportionment”, “cost distribution” and “cost assessment”). To remove any doubts, count on professional finance translators with training in your sector and plenty of experience handling the documents you want to translate.  

    4. Using the wrong numbers, units and formats

    As you might expect, getting the numbers right is a top priority when translating financial content. All numbers, dates and units must be closely checked against the original text. 

    Our full guide on finance translation services shows how number formats can vary among countries that share the same language. But did you know that some countries have their own number and date systems? Here are some examples: 

    IndiaIndian lakhs and crores:
    In India and other parts of South Asia, one lakh (1,00,000) is used for one hundred thousand, and one crore (1,00,00,000) represents ten million.

    ChinaFinancial numbers in Chinese:
    Different characters are used for numbers used in financial and accounting contexts in traditional and simplified Chinese to prevent forgeries (e.g., 二十 (20) is easy to change to 五千 (5,000) as opposed to the formal equivalents (貳拾 or 贰拾)). 

    JapanJapan’s era calendar system:
    Era names are widely used to indicate the year. The current era is Reiwa (令和), which began on 1 May 2019. The start of Japan’s fiscal year 2022 (1 April 2021) can be written as 2021年4月1日 or 令和3年4月1日 (i.e., the third Reiwa year) in Japanese

    Look into the style used in the specific country you’re targeting to clear up any confusion. 

    5. Not following local requirements for your finance translations

    Adapting the text to meet differing local regulations is an integral part of finance translation services. Documents that don’t comply with local regulations stop you from establishing credibility and a strong brand presence. Expert finance translators stay on top of evolving regulatory standards and conventions in the target market so businesses can obtain approval from the relevant authorities. 

    6. Putting confidentiality at risk

    In the era of generative artificial intelligence (AI), machine translation (MT) and AI translation tools are being increasingly relied on to help render the vast amount of financial documents into other languages. It’s important to be aware of the risks of handling your financial translation with such online tools. Financial institutions and businesses store highly valuable and confidential information. Any breach could compromise sensitive data, causing reputational and financial damage. Thoroughly examining the terms and security practices of the technology you’re using ensures they’ll only be used for the appropriate materials. Your data should never be used to train the machines or sold to third parties. 

    7. Skipping quality checks

    Financial documents often need to be prepared quickly to meet strict deadlines. However, given the high stakes associated with finance translation, the localization process should include ample final verification steps. Quality assurance checks in CAT tools scan the text for errors like missing numbers, terminological mistakes or inconsistencies. The “four-eyes principle” (e.g., revision by a second professional finance translator) is also crucial to meeting demanding translation quality requirements. Include desktop publishing (DTP) or user interface (UI) testing to see the translations in context. 

    Accurate and compliant finance translation services 

    Financial documents are invaluable when expanding into international markets. While it may be tempting to skip over a few steps, thorough preparation and processes with experts are essential to drum up interest in your products and services. Fortunately, finding the right linguists to take care of your financial translation online doesn’t have to be complicated. Attached’s translators, copywriters and proofreaders have extensive expertise and go above and beyond best practices to help you reach your audience. 

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