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ULG’s Language Solutions Blog

The Risks of Making a Mistake in Financial Translation

For financial institutions looking to expand their markets through multilingual translation, the stakes are high. As your brand breaks international boundaries, you’ll need to strategize how to best communicate with your clients and maintain corporate stability, even in the case of geopolitical upheaval or a shift in your global demographics. One simple mistake can be costly, if not catastrophic, both in terms of capital loss as well as legal conflict.

From the outside looking in, financial translation is often misunderstood. Some language providers may focus on literal translation services, but in the case of finance, accurate numerical translation is just as important. In fact, inaccurate punctuation and value confusion are just some of the primary reasons for dire mix-ups. Complicated financial jargon and regulatory language can also get lost in the shuffle. 

Below, we discuss the largest risks of making a mistake in financial translation and what you can do to prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the first place.

Mixed Messaging

Internal and external communication is the first place for financial institutions to focus their efforts, but it’s often overlooked. Financial translation services permeate nearly every aspect of a financial institution’s daily operations, from marketing to PR, legal, and client assets. 

Banks have the added challenge of drafting, maintaining, and protecting documents that contain sensitive information. You need a team of linguists or a program you can trust to ensure compliance, anonymity, and data security when it comes to your organization’s internal and external communication. By investing in a language solutions partner (LSP) with translation and interpretation experience—and the financial industry expertise to match—companies of all sizes can streamline their workflows, reach new prospects, and enrich the level of satisfaction among their customer base.

Misrepresentation

Most of the time, translation focuses on written words, but numbers need to be handled with the same level of care in a multilingual context. Numerical values, punctuation, and abbreviations must all be translated, transposed, or localized for additional clarity. The smallest details can have lasting effects when translating numbers. Look for an LSP that has experience partnering with financial institutions—and that understands the big picture and the local angle—when fine-tuning numbers-based translations. 

Even the simplest translation errors can cause major issues. Consider the fact that the U.S. formats currency with a decimal point as a separator between dollars and cents, whereas some countries use a comma instead of a decimal to indicate that separation. In a cultural context, even between countries that share a language, “1,000” versus “1.000” is a crucial difference. Now imagine those as repeat mistakes on annual reports, balance sheets, or other insurance-related documents.

Noncompliance

Financial institutions must consider more than just the accuracy of their messaging; they must also ensure critical financial documentation (10-K, annual budgets, market analytics and intelligence and so forth) meets already-established accounting standards. Some of the standards financial institutions must consider include:

  • Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) 
  • International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)
  • Local and federal regulations

With the help of the right LSP, banks, lenders and auditors can ensure that all regulatory documents meet these requirements and deliver accurate, succinct information to customers in their native language every time. 

Compromised Security

When looking for the LSP that’s right for your organization, set security measures as a top priority. Individual financial data, as well as data from large corporations, is at risk without the proper data security protocols and preventative actions. And if financial institutions make the mistake of partnering with an LSP that doesn’t take security measures seriously, those banks could become liable for any related security breaches. For instance, when drafting government tax reports or application forms, banks must work with a reputable LSP that understands the importance of security. 

At ULG, we regularly work with clients to translate sales materials, contracts, service agreements, and regulatory communications while placing security at the center of every language solution. 

Capital Loss or Legal Conflict

Although some language mishaps may be minor, others are the worst-case scenario. Mistranslation that misleads customers or compromises their data security could result in a massive financial loss or potential litigation. In these scenarios, an organization’s reputation is at stake, and customer support teams must actively work to rebuild customer loyalty. For example, if financial agreements or cash flow statements are mistranslated, banks will need to regain their customers’ trust through careful partnership and reestablishing a pattern of success. 

Find the Right Financial Translation Solution

Finding a reputable language solutions partner can save you major headaches—and even millions of dollars—when it comes to ensuring accurate, safe, and compliant financial translations. 

ULG offers 360-degree support for financial institutions of all sizes. Learn more about our financial translation and interpretation solutions, including:

  • Mutual funds
  • Insurance
  • Client materials
  • Internal documents
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Ratings and market intelligence


Ready to jumpstart your multilingual communication and support today? Take a look at our Seven Tips For High-Yield Language Partnerships e-book to get started.