Financial localization services are in high demand as companies look to expand their marketing strategies, grow their customer base, and increase their capital markets prospects. Translation of financial documents covers everything from financial statements and regulatory documents to annual reports, investment research reports, public offerings, and financial agreements. Due to the significant variety of documentation, the translation style for each naturally varies and can often result in companies making these same common mistakes. Here are the top three (and how you can avoid them):
1) Mistake: Ambiguous Messaging
Company messaging is often mistranslated, drastically changing the original content. In 2005, a journalist from the China News Service, China’s government newspaper, released a piece discussing a potential rise in value of the yuan. It was then poorly translated into English by the People’s Daily, another Chinese newspaper, stating that China was going to announce an appreciation of the currency after a meeting of US and Chinese economic officials during the following week. Bloomberg and Reuters questioned the report and realized it was a mistranslation, but not before around $2 billion of currency was traded in the space of a few minutes.
How to avoid it:
To avoid this mistake, financial reports and press releases should be peer-edited and proofread internally by other financial translators, or when machine translation is used, a post-editing stage should be implemented internally to assure quality before publishing.
2) Mistake: Punctuation Errors
Most English-speaking countries separate thousands with a comma and decimals with a period. However, Germany and Spain use a period to separate thousands and Switzerland uses an apostrophe. When documents are translated from English to Spanish, it’s all too easy for $100,000 to become $100.
How to avoid it:
To avoid value confusion, a language service provider like TransPerfect works with native translators who are industry experts. In the case of international IPOs, the translators are carefully chosen so that only ones with extensive experience in finance and banking knowledge are chosen. With a high quality translation, an IPO filing accurately provides investors a clearer picture of what a company does and how its business functions. As a result, the investors who read the reports gain more confidence in a company and are more likely to invest in it.
3) Mistake: Design without Expansion
Visual choices are an equally important aspect of localization. This is a mistake typically made long before any attempts at localizing content for a new market begins. Often, a company will use fonts, formatting, colors, or design choices that either translate poorly into other cultures or are too difficult to replicate or recreate. For example, English and Spanish read from left to right but Arabic and Hebrew read right to left, negating any website scrolling effects created by a website developer.
How to avoid it:
Language service providers must have a heightened awareness of the end users so that future markets are not driven away by today’s content. Companies should look to research design best practices for the language they are translating into early on to avoid problems down the road.
TransPerfect has shaped multilingual consumer journeys for leading financial services organizations around the world in more than 200 languages. To find out how we could assist you with financial translation, contact us today.