5 common financial translation errors and how to avoid them (hint: you may be committing at least one of them)

From financial statements to credit card statements, the world of finance is so tightly regulated that a small error in translation can have major consequences. That’s why it’s so important to get it right and hire a translator who has specialist knowledge in the subject.

In this post, we will look at five common mistakes in financial translation and how you can avoid them.

 1. Confusion with jargon


One of the biggest challenges in financial translation is dealing with all the industry-specific jargon. There are so many terms and abbreviations specific to the world of finance that keeping up with them can be an enormous task.

This jargon is also country-specific. Just because a term is used in one country does not mean that people understand it in a different region of the world. For example, in the United States, paper money is called “bills” and in the United Kingdom, they are called “notes”. This can be incredibly confusing for British people. In a restaurant, for example, a British person can pay the bill with a check, whereas Americans pay the check with bills.


 2. Problems with punctuation


Punctuation may seem like a minor detail but, be careful because numbers are an extremely critical part of a financial document.

In Spanish, thousands are written with a decimal point (1.000, 2.000, etc.), while in English they are written with a comma (1,000, 2,000, etc.). An inappropriate comma in a balance sheet, for example, could have very serious consequences.

 3. Cultural differences


Another common mistake in financial translation is not taking into account the cultural context and the target audience. Just because something makes sense in one culture does not mean it makes sense in another. An example would be the term “ISA”, which stands for “Individual Savings Account”. This term does not exist in other countries such as Spain or France, so we would have to add a footnote to the text, providing the reader with an explanation.

 4. Time constraints on financial translation


When it comes to business, fast turnaround times have never been more important than today. Being faster than the competition means having a better chance of success. The same goes for financial statements. Deadlines are very tight. Annual reports and financial statements have rigid publication dates, which means that most companies publish them at the same time. This involves an enormous amount of work that needs to be done accurately and quickly.

A professional translator will always be transparent when it comes to prices and deadlines.


 5. Lack of knowledge regarding regulations and compliance


When translating financial documents, it is essential to be aware of the regulatory environment in the target country. Laws and regulations governing the financial sector vary from country to country and if you are not familiar with them, you may end up in trouble.

For example, to open a bank account in Spain, you will need to have a DNI (National Identity card) or NIE (Foreigners’ Identity Card) and a passport.



Now we’ve arrived at the part you’ve all been waiting for…how to avoid mistakes during a translation project. Here are some essential tips.

 1. Provide clear instructions


To get the best quality financial translation services, you should invest time in creating detailed and clear instructions for your translators.

For example, is there a glossary or a specific list of terms you want the translator to use? Is the text going to be published on a website or will it be exclusively for internal use?

 2. Do your research


Before you start translating, it is important to research and understand the target market. This includes a thorough understanding of the culture, language and regulatory environment. A professional translator will always take the time to carry out this essential part of the translation process.



3. Work with an experienced professional translator.


Translating financial documents requires extensive experience and expertise in the financial sector. A financial translator will have extensive knowledge of the subject matter terminology and will be up-to-date regarding any changes to regulations and compliance.

If you’re looking to attract new clients and expand your brand to the English-speaking market, don’t hesitate to contact me for a free quote.


5 common financial translation errors and how to avoid them (hint: you may be committing at least one of them)

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