Business Translation Center

What to look for in a financial translator

by OFER TIROSH 27/03/2019

As the end of the tax year approaches in the UK, companies are looking to get their financial affairs in order, ready for a fresh fiscal year to begin. For those companies with divisions overseas or which are part of an international conglomerate or which work with foreign investors, this can often mean they need to translate financial documents into other languages. As such, we’ve rounded up the key qualities to look for in a financial translator. 

The art of financial translation

There’s no question that financial translation is a skilled art. All translation requires superb linguistic ability, but translating numerical documents also requires a great deal of financial expertise. As such, it’s advisable to seek out a specialist translator to work on your company documents. 

Financial translation takes various forms, so be sure to interview your potential translator or translation company about precisely what they will be bringing to your document. Just as accountants can choose to specialise in anything from auditing to payroll to corporate tax, so too can financial translators. As such, ask detailed questions about the type of documents that any potential translator is experienced at working on, in order that you can engage someone who has just the right expertise for your job. You can also ask if the translator holds any relevant financial qualifications, gained either in your own country or that of the target language. 

Outstanding language skills

Naturally, your translator will need outstanding language skills as well as top notch financial credentials. It’s always best to use a native speaker of the target language rather than the document’s original language. This is because using a translator who speaks the target language natively usually results in a better quality translation. 

Localization expertise 

When working with a financial translator, you also need to be very clear on whether any elements of the document needed to be converted into the currency of the intended audience. If so, you will need to agree how this is delivered in the copy – whether shown as addendums in parentheses or in some other format. 

Localizing your financial document in this way can make it more user-friendly to the target audience. However, it must be made clear to the reader where conversions have been made, particularly where these relate to currencies. Exchange rates differ from day to day and from institution to institution, so it is important to convey precise details of the exchange rate used where any figures are converted from one currency to another. Discuss this in detail with your translator in order to achieve the best outcome. 

Practicalities of hiring a financial translator

Finally, it’s important to think through the practicalities of hiring a financial translator. Consider whether you would prefer to work with a freelancer that you recruit yourself (and, if so, how you can go about this) or a translation company that will have a bank of financial translators to hand, covering a range of language pairings. 

Both arrangements have their advantages. Working directly with a freelancer can be more cost effective, while working with an agency can be lower risk (if your translator comes down with a bug the day before your translation work is due to begin, the agency will be quick to replace them – a task which could cost you a great deal of time if you need to find someone else online at short notice). 

For many companies, a sense of peace of mind is of uppermost importance, so look out for translation agencies that provide a guarantee with their work in order to know you are working with a company that you can have confidence in. 

Final thoughts

Financial translation doesn’t have to be difficult – it’s just a question of finding the right person for the task at hand. Are you ready to get started?