and how should you select the right one?
As globalization continues to make great strides, the financial sector increasingly resorts to premium translations in order to inform international stakeholders about the performance of their investment.
It is crucial for Financial businesses to realize the importance of collaborating in a close relationship with a specialized translator. This is especially true in the realm of businesses which operate in English and French-speaking countries. First, as a technical field, finance heavily relies on complex jargon and abstract frameworks which are only truly understood by a handful of practitioners. In addition, cultural and regulatory idiosyncrasies are highly significant and should adequately be accounted for when translating from English to French.
Translations which aren’t undertaken by professionals might allow the reader to get the gist of your message, but it will not precisely convey its originally intended meaning. A distorted communication can have a devastating effect on your future viability if your stakeholders’ trust withers away and your operations fall short of expectations.
Industry knowledge is a prerequisite for financial translation
As you review your yearly balance sheet, you may wonder who else might be able to distinguish between accruals and realized profits or understand why prepayments are classified as liabilities. Most people would agree that translating a document which appears completely unfamiliar is incredibly daunting and has the potential to generate consequential mistakes. In financial translating circles, an anecdote recently caught my attention: a financial company which had decided to delegate their balance sheet translation to an unspecialized translator was surprised to notice that “stock” had been erroneously translated into “shares” in French as opposed to “inventories”.
The truth is that such a discrediting mistake could be easily avoided if only your translator had followed a rigorous training, whether academic or professional, in the financial sector.
A professional translator from French to English must also be aware of the guidelines regarding formatting, numbering, and terms in both countries. Indeed, most English-speaking countries follow the rules given by GAAP or IFRS whereas most French-speaking countries adhere to the Plan de Comptabilité General (ICG). This matters as certain English technical notions have no French counterpart, such as EBITDA (earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization). Hence a professional translator must undertake a contextual analysis in order to find the French equivalent; in this case it could be BAIIA or EBT.
Also, from an editorial perspective, certain financial documents such as investor reports tend to obey different modes of expression as they cater to readerships with distinctive cultural expectations.
To address all the aforementioned risks, ideally, you should rely on a professional translator who has had experience working and/or studying in both a French and an English-speaking country.
“Quality isn’t always expensive, but the lack thereof always is”
Here’s a short list of financial documents which often land on a financial translator’s desk:
- Key investor information documents (KIID)
- Investment fund reports
- Investor reports
- Balance sheets
- Income statements
- Financial reporting guidelines
- Bank documents
- Information memorandums
- Investigation papers
- Risk management and asset management documents
- Audit reports
All the above share one characteristic: they carry a considerable weight in terms of their amount of information and the business stakes they incur.
It is crucial to treat the translation of these documents with great caution to avoid the dramatic consequences which may ensue. Low-quality French translations often result in an increase in the total costs of your operations as you inevitably finish up calling upon a professional to clear up any mistakes. Severe delays may occur if your financial presentations (info memos) fails to accurately convey the modalities of your projects. Finally, your company may suffer in the long run from a loss of reputation in French-speaking countries or incur lawsuits following the rejection of your proposals by the local regulatory bodies.
It is important for your translation partner to measure these risks appropriately. Oftentimes, specialized translators address these by employing advanced technologies to manage terminology accuracy and include post-translation checks and proof-reading in their services.
Finding the ideal agency and engaging in a long-term relationship
Building a long-term relationship with your financial translator ensures that your firm’s idiosyncrasies are known so as to limit the number of possible mischaracterizations of your identity as a business. The longer you work alongside a translation provider the higher the quality of your French documents will ultimately become.
To determine whether your partner is adequate, consider its degree of financial specialization as given by the level of studies or experience of translators in the financial sector. Also, make sure that your provider disposes of a robust terminological base, and can adapt to your preferences if need be. Finally, make sure that the communication between your firm and your provider is clear and honest to avoid costly mistakes and ensure your stakeholders ultimately remain perfectly informed, this will only benefit your business in the long-run.