In a global business world, the financial sector is increasingly turning towards premium financial translation, so that international stakeholders remain up to speed with their investment’s performance.
Developing a close relationship with a specialist translator is crucial for those in the financial industry, and especially for businesses operating in English and French-speaking countries.
Firstly, as a technical field, the finance sector has a lot of its own specific terminology and complex ideas which specialists understand easily, but can seem very daunting to outsiders.
In addition, cultural and regulatory idiosyncrasies play a big role and should be kept in mind when translating from English to French.
Financial translations that aren’t carried out by professionals, might allow the reader to get the gist of your message, but they will not precisely convey its originally intended meaning.
Poor communication can have a negative effect on your future viability, risking loss of trust from stakeholders, and meaning your potential failure to meet your client’s expectations.
Industry knowledge is key in financial translation
As you review your yearly balance sheet, you may wonder who else might be able to distinguish between accruals and realised profits or understand why prepayments are classified as liabilities.
Most people would agree that translating a document which seems completely unfamiliar is incredibly daunting, and there is potential for it to go very wrong.
In financial translation circles, an anecdote recently caught my attention, an accountancy firm which had decided to delegate their balance sheet translation to an unspecialised translator, was surprised to notice that “stock” had been wrongly translated into “shares” in French, as opposed to “inventories”.
A mistake like this, which can damage a company’s reputation, could have been easily avoided if the translator had undertaken rigorous training, whether academic or professional, in the financial sector.
A professional French-to-English translator must also be aware of the guidelines regarding formatting, numbering, and terms in both countries. 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).
The reason this matters, is that certain English technical concepts have no French counterpart, such as EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation).
Consequently, 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 different expectations of the document.
To address all the above 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.
Some of the financial documents a financial translator might handle
- 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
One thing that these documents have in common, is that they carry considerable weight in terms of their amount of information, and the business stakes they involve. It is crucial to treat the translation of these documents with great caution because of the potential repercussions.
Low-quality French translations often result in an increase in the total costs of your operations, as you inevitably need to call upon a professional to clear up any mistakes. Additionally, severe delays may occur if your financial presentations (or memos) fail to accurately convey the terms and conditions of your projects.
Finally, your company may suffer loss of reputation in French-speaking countries, or incur lawsuits from your proposals being rejected by the local regulatory bodies.
It is important for your translation partner to measure these risks appropriately. Often, specialist translators handle these challenges with the tools they use, which are able to manage terminology accuracy, and will include post-translation checks and proofreading in their services.
Finding the perfect agency and building a long-term relationship
Building a long-term relationship with your financial translator ensures that your firm’s idiosyncrasies are well known, therefore limiting the possibility of your identity as a business being misrepresented.
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 suitable, consider their degree of financial specialisation, shown by the qualifications or experience of the financial sector translators.
Also, make sure that your provider has a robust terminological base, and can adapt to your preferences if need be.
Finally, make sure that 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.