Having worked for a busy translation agency, I have had the advantage of working with many types of clients, all with diverse needs and requirements. Over the duration of an average day, it would be fair to say that no two assignments are ever the same, because no two clients are ever the same. An area where we do receive a significant amount of requests is in the field of financial translation.Financial translation refers to the broad area involving the translation of financial documents and giving out sensitive fiscal information. This can vary from the translation of complex financial reports to technical terms and conditions found within financial documents through to excel spreadsheets detailing a company’s profit and loss data.


It is a service that both individuals and organisations may require if they are going to market goods and services over the Internet. Big organisations that are seeking to have representation in a foreign market may need to have the financial reports of a potential acquisition translated precisely and accurately. Similarly an individual may need their own financial details translated if they are looking to relocate or make a significant purchase in a non-native country i.e buying a property in Portugal.

Like all fields of translation, accuracy of the financial translation is highlighted by the use of a mother tongue linguist who has skills and experience in the financial industry too. Typically, a qualified financial translator will hold some form of financial and or business qualification such as an MBA, accountancy qualifications or financial consultancy qualifications. Before choosing your financial services translation provider, as in all fields of translation, there are some important factors to consider. This article looks at certain issues that can affect your choice of supplier and things to take into consideration, before placing an order with them.

Often, financial translations involve material that is of a private and confidential nature, so there has to be a confidentiality agreement between the client and the translations company. The material may be due for publication on a set date, but prior release, is forbidden, such as insider trading – that is how people get into trouble. When determining who to use as your translation supplier, that the supplier you choose is trustworthy, regarding confidentiality and non-disclosure.

Employing an agency rather than an individual translator may be of benefit here, especially if the project is going to require more than one translator. Agencies typically have access to a number of suppliers and can handle multiple languages, documents and dialect linguistics. The translations agency is likely to have confidentially agreements already in place with all their suppliers that govern the disclosure of the work and you would only need to provide one confidentiality agreement for the entire project – between you and the agency.

Some documents have a lot of repeated text throughout them, or you have clauses (such as in terms and conditions) that you need to be repeated at specific intervals within in certain areas. It is worth finding out if your proposed supplier is able to provide Translation Memory (TM) is a software application process that will look for duplication in your document and prompt the translator to reuse this duplicate text when needed. One of the big advantages of using (TM) is that it helps with the consistency of your document as well as reducing the overall cost of the project and saves hours too.

In addition, it would also be worth investigating if your supplier has access to relevant financial dictionaries. The financial industry uses many complex terms, anachronisms and phrases that are industry specific. It is vitally important that the translators undertaking your assignment are not only aware of this terminology, but have access to the resources that explain what they mean. Googling specific terms is often not enough to get the required definition, and a good translator will have access to an extensive range of references specific to their areas of expertise. You really do not want to have any inaccuracies in your data or terminology; it might lead to problems later on.

Another key element is already outlined at the start of this piece is the use of skilled translators. Professional translators will often specialise in one specific area, and a skilled translator will not only have language qualifications, but also a qualification in their area of professional expertise like a teacher, doctor, nurse, book-keeper etc. As described, a typical qualification for a financial translator can include an MOA or accountancy qualification. Before committing to your translation provider, it would be worth consulting with them to find out what qualifications their financial translators hold and industry sector expertise such trading somewhere in the Far East etc.

If your assignment is long, it would be worth considering the use of an agency in preference to an individual translator. It may be that your project is required in multiple languages, or output is required in a specific file type, such as print ready or XML. Here, an agency is likely to have the dispensation in terms of its access to resources, usually being able to manage multiple languages in multiple files types. It would be worth confirming that your selected language provider is able to handle specific file types and has the resources in the house to be able to match output into the desired format.

For individuals who need to have financial documentation translated for legal and compliance reasons, I always advise confirming the scope of the requirements with the body that have requested the translations. For example if you are looking to emigrate to a foreign country and part of the application process stipulates you need to have bank statements translated, it is worth confirming how much of the statements are needed such as all figures contained within the document or just the text. It may be that as well as translation your documents require rekeying and certification, all of which can add to the overall cost of the assignment.