Numbers are numbers, right? A zero is a zero in English the same way it is in Arabic or Mandarin. But what about everything surrounding the numbers in a financial document? What about financial context for different countries, languages, and audiences?
Investing in language services offers excellent returns for businesses of all types; for example, Common Sense Advisory reports that Fortune 500 companies (including financial institutions) that expanded their translation budgets were 1.5 times more likely to also increase their total revenue. On the flip side, not being careful enough with translation (especially financial documents) can spell disaster for an organization’s reputation and fiscal well-being.
Language services for financial institutions involve numerous complexities, from local regulations and legal issues to cultural nuance, to interpreting the numbers themselves. This means when working in cross-cultural finance or with international clients, you should have a Language Solutions Partner (LSP) by your side with a team of linguists well-versed in financial operations, as well as the target languages.
Here are some of the main ways that translations and language solutions are essential to the financial services industry.
If your organization operates internationally, financial documents such as your 10-K and annual report should be translated into the necessary languages depending on where you do business. Different regions may have different accounting standards, such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the United States and International Financial Reporting Standards in the European Union and parts of Asia and South America. Your LSP should be attuned to not only the linguistic translation of financial documents, but also the adaptation of new standards and regulations.
Does your financial organization share information through marketing such as newsletters or handbooks? Build a better brand and communicate your value to global clients by translating your website and any relevant marketing materials into the necessary target languages. If a potential client can’t read the fine print, they are unlikely to do business with you.
In addition to marketing communications, materials listing benefits, legal responsibilities, ownership, and more will need to be translated for the intended client. For example, insurance companies will need to translate evidence of coverage, and brokers dealing with the acquisition or sale of financial assets must have their relevant materials translated. Similarly, if you share press releases or shareholder notes with investors, these should be translated into multiple languages in order to reach all clients.
Client-facing financial services firms will likely encounter a variety of language speakers; this means they will need a subject-matter expert to assist in interpreting. Some situations that may call for interpreting include shareholder meetings, negotiations, and loan interviews. An LSP offers a variety of interpreting services, ranging from in-person to video remote interpreting to facilitate multilingual communication. The chosen interpreter should have a background in finance, accounting, banking, or a similar industry.
Mergers & acquisitions
In a cross-cultural merger & acquisition, all relevant parties must fully understand the terms and conditions of the deal before signing on the dotted line. Negotiations between speakers of different languages will need to be facilitated by a qualified interpreter, while any legal and financial documents regarding assets should be translated into all parties’ languages. In addition, M&A sellers who use a secure Virtual Data Room (VDR) to share financial documents with prospective buyers may also want to translate key summaries of these documents into multiple languages to expand the potential buyer pool.
When dollar signs (or euros, or yen, or pesos) are involved, the potential consequences of client confusion or regulatory noncompliance are high. Accurate financial translation will not only pay dividends monetarily – it will also help to create a positive reputation for your firm.
Want to learn more about how financial translation can reach new clients or improve existing operations? Contact a ULG specialist today.