The Top 5 Challenges of Financial Translation

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One mistranslation can lead to major problems in the financial world. From getting the terminology right to understanding the target market, read on to discover the top 5 financial translation challenges most linguists face in their day-to-day jobs…

1. Terminology

One of the most common translation problems faced by linguists is getting the terminology right. When translating a financial document, it’s extremely important that the linguist has a deep understanding of the sector. Terminology and nuances in this industry are very intricate and unique so it can be a serious challenge for those who have no experience or understanding of it. When translating an online trading article, for instance, the translator should be able to find the appropriate translation for words like “stocks”, “commodities” or “bear market”. They need to have a thorough understanding of the context. Performing a direct translation of this terminology will ultimately result in a major case of translation gone wrong. The words may sound straight-forward, but in fact, in the financial world, they have an entirely different meaning. A “Bear market” has nothing to do with the grizzly animal, it is actually a market trend in the trading industry. The same goes for the  Cryptocurrency and ICO field. Words like “smart contract” and “mining” are very precise, technical terminology that is unique to that sector. Will the translator interpret these words for their exact meaning or will they ensure that accurate financial and technical terms are used in the target language, too? Unless your translator is an expert in the financial field, nailing that specific lingo can be a great challenge.

2. Confidentiality

Turning to a language service provider to translate your financial reports and other important and private information? Handing over any material of private matter poses a great deal of risk. But at the end of the day, most of it needs to be translated. That’s why it’s important that you trust your LSP and that you’re certain of their confidentiality. Some translation agencies might require their linguists to sign non-disclosure agreements while translation memories are usually set so that they are protected from external sources. Clients want to be rest assured that their valuable information won’t be leaked, tampered with, mistranslated or fraudulently used. For this reason, it’s important that the designated translators are trustworthy, responsible and professional with the valuable information handed to them.

3. Numbers

Numbers, numbers, numbers. They’re presented quite often in the financial world, wouldn’t you say? You may assume that English is the universal language for numbers but in in fact, they vary around the world. The Chinese and Japanese numbering system differs greatly to the standard one, for example. Translators shouldn’t simply be cautious of words, but numeric figures too. Punctuation is another aspect that needs special attention.1,200 is considered as “one thousand two hundred” in English-speaking countries. In some European countries, however, the comma may cause people to view the number as “1.2”. It’s crucial that the linguist gets these “small-scale” details right otherwise, the translated financial document can lead to serious misunderstandings. Anyone who isn’t well-equipped with financial knowledge and who isn’t a native or professional translator would pretty much struggle with this kind of translation.

4. Time Constraints

The financial world is extremely fast-paced and time-restricted. Reports, statements and important updates are constantly being published and there are tight deadlines that companies wouldn’t dare to miss. Financial translations therefore need to be carried out in a timely manner. Whether it’s an emergency email about a market crash or a news report about a plunge in price value, the financial calendars of these companies are a ticking time bomb. All associated teams and partners need to be on point and prepared to publish at any moment in time and this includes the translators, too. Of course, this can be a difficulty when you have piles and piles of work to carry out. Content targeted for the financial industry is usually prioritized in order to meet the strict deadlines. It becomes more challenging when the volume of work is high and this is usually often the case in the economic world.

5. Market Culture & Rules

Rules and regulations in finance can be complicated due to their elaborate and intricate nature. They differ in each country and for this reason, translating a financial document for another region can be tricky. Linguists need to be aware and up to date with the particular customs in the target market. You don’t want to run into any legal charges.
Translating one report or disclaimer for another country can prove to be difficult; especially if one regulation is applicable in a market and not in the other. For example, Bitcoin trading is banned in China. Does that mean you should rule out a Chinese translation? It’s also important that you consider the market itself. Which region is Forex trading popular in? Are there any countries that do not particularly attract investors? These are just a few issues that one must consider when wanting to globalize a brand.


Translation fails can lead to financial failures. We therefore can’t stress enough how important it is to get the interpretation right.

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