With all of its complexities, financial translation is a challenge for organizations in virtually every line of business. There are strict legal and regulatory frameworks in place at the local, regional, national and international levels, and there are serious consequences for those who fail to comply.

Here we take a look at the three primary challenges of financial translation and offer some solutions. A professional translation agency is a good place to turn for help with these issues. You’ll want to choose one that has an approach and the resources to align with your needs and offer tailored solutions. The right agency makes all the difference.

Finance encompasses dozens of highly specialized and diverse areas of expertise, and financial translation involves hundreds of document types, ranging from the purely factual to the most highly engaging. Beyond that, the files are created and processed in multiple—and often complicated—formats. Furthermore, firms have to be able to export and deliver data or files directly in their clients’ respective management systems.


a) A specialized team of language professionals for each sector

Key qualifications for language professionals

All language professionals who work for you should have a degree in translation and specialize in finance. University-level finance programs include courses in accounting, economics, and other specialized fields, and training doesn’t end at graduation. Throughout their careers, language professionals specializing in finance take professional development courses to develop or upgrade skills, the Canadian Securities Course and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) training being two notable examples.

Your firm’s language professionals also have to keep up with financial news and the countless laws and regulations—local, regional, national and international—applicable to their fields. It is their professional duty to determine which legislation applies to the texts they translate. Understanding and using the relevant passages is part of the language specialist’s skill set.

Bear in mind that it takes at least five years for a financial language professional to acquire the necessary experience and skills. Don’t hesitate to ask your agency for proof of this experience.

Key linguistic roles

Each specialist within a linguistic team does work that complements the others’ and requires specific skills.

What do the translators do?
  • They do research to understand the text and the relevant laws and regulations.
  • They identify specialized terms that have no official equivalent and have them translated by terminologists.
  • They translate all new content to produce accurate text that reads as well as the original.
  • They identify passages that have been translated before and integrate those effectively into their translation.
What do the adapters do?
  • They do the same job as a translator, but work on texts that are more creative or strategic and use wordplay, imagery or phrases that don’t exist in the target language.
  • They organize and express the ideas differently to properly convey the message while maintaining the intended style and effect.
What do the terminologists do?
  • They do extensive research to find an equivalent for new or specialized terms.
  • They create, formalize and inform others of equivalents for terms that have never been translated.
What do the revisers do?
  • They review all translations done by the dedicated translation team in their area of expertise.
  • They enhance translations, making sure they’re accurate and achieve the desired effect.
  • They see to it that the message, style and terminology are consistent across all texts.
What do the proofreaders do?
  • They participate in quality control by focusing on form.
  • They check the format and accuracy of numbers, links, references and other elements added to the text.
  • They correct typos that may have been introduced during previous file processing, updates or verifications.
Knowing how to work well with external auditors
  • Regulatory documents often need to be reviewed and formally approved by the client’s auditors. Financial statements and mutual fund management reports are prime examples.
  • Your agency’s revisers must be familiar with each text’s content to be able to speak with the auditors and address specific issues. Auditors may leave out details or ignore input from other specialists, and revisers and translators play an important role in ensuring the final quality of regulatory documents. In fact, they’re often praised by clients for catching errors or omissions that may have escaped the external audit process.
  • Several consecutive versions of the same documents are sent to the auditors. With highly efficient project managers, the agency can coordinate a multitude of tasks and ensure that deadlines are met.

b) A well-rounded team of managers

Your agency must assign seasoned experts to your organization, particularly in terms of project management and technology. An agency with its own IT specialists offers tremendous advantages, as state-of-the-art tools are so vital to professional translation.

The project managers’ job

In project management, you need a dedicated team for each financial sector, as the challenges can vary widely from one to the next. Your dedicated managers excel when they know the issues: laws and regulations, products and services, types of documents to be translated, communication and publication cycles, internal and external stakeholders, etc.

Client relations
Performing a professional assessment of needs and building the collaborative, trusting relationships that are crucial to the success of the agency’s work.
Formats and systems

With technology specialists, extracting, converting and delivering a range of file and data types in various systems.


Analyzing texts (subject, laws, terminology, etc.) to optimize the choice of language professionals and the stages of each project, all the way through to the steps taken by the client’s auditor.


Managing the linguistic experts’ time and priorities so that the right people are always available at the right time for each project.

Project schedules and costs

Evaluating, planning and monitoring all project stages to maximize speed of execution while minimizing costs.

Access to information

Managing secure access to information and documentation on a need-to-know basis, and only for the duration of each parties’ involvement in the project.

Financial translation is subject to particularly strict requirements for quality, security and reporting deadlines. These requirements may be dictated by laws or regulations, and can also be driven by political, economic or commercial imperatives. Adding to the challenge is the fact that laws and regulations vary from country to country, and sometimes even from region to region within the same country.


Certified compliance

The best guarantee you can get from an agency is proof of its certification under language-industry quality standards:

In these standards, two requirements directly related to client relations ensure compliance with your industry’s legal and regulatory framework:

  • Processes that allow the agency to analyze client requests and ensure that it is able to meet all of their specifications
  • The obligation to document specifications in an agreement with each client

Compliance with your industry’s legal and regulatory framework is part of the specifications that the agency must know and document. The standards require that, when in doubt, the agency obtain the necessary clarifications from the client from the outset.

Established by recognized language experts, each standard has its own certification process, but they call for an independent audit of the agency’s operations and documented processes. The agency must demonstrate that its employees and collaborators are abreast of current processes. Once certified, the agency undergoes a follow-up audit every two years, and can lose its certificate if it no longer meets the compliance criteria.

In addition to client-relations requirements, the standards cover everything that is needed to deliver high-quality language services securely and efficiently:

  • The recruitment of reliable and competent professionals who are bound by a confidentiality agreement
  • The skills and knowledge that each language professional must possess
  • State-of-the-art tools and systems that the agency should be equipped to use
  • The numerous mandatory steps in the translation and revision process
  • The many important steps in the project management process
  • The key elements of the quality and confidentiality management system

For the sake of legal and regulatory compliance, as well as a host of other critical issues, it truly is in your best interest to choose an agency that holds language-industry certifications. The certification’s requirements guarantee performance, diligence, discretion, user-friendliness, traceability, continuous improvement and everything else that any partner worthy of your organization’s business should be able to offer.

Many translation companies suggest that all financial terminology is readily available in databases or translation memories. This is entirely untrue. In reality, the professional management of financial terminology is an extremely complex task for three reasons.

There are tens of millions of terms that already have an official translation in hundreds of different sources. For example:

  • Laws
  • Standards
  • Specialized manuals
  • Global, national, regional and industry-specific databases

Every year, tens of thousands of new terms to translate are created in the financial sector. For example:

  • Additions or changes to laws and regulations
  • New products, services or financial programs
  • New tools that optimize access to products, services or programs
  • New marketing campaigns that introduce new brands and creative concepts

The same term must have the right equivalent in all the texts in which it appears, and there are often hundreds being translated or written simultaneously in different organizations and even different countries.


A team of terminologists

An agency’s terminologists will have specialized in terminology as part of their degree. Some majored in translation with a specialization in terminology, and others completed a master’s in terminology.

The three key duties of a terminologist

This highly valued specialty in Canada is based on three main functions that require unique skills and processes.

Looking up terms that have already been translated and formalized

When translators can’t find an equivalent, or when they find more than one and don’t know which one to use, terminologists search in highly specialized sources or consult with industry experts.

Creating equivalents for new terms

Terminologists also do expert research to create, define and formalize a unique equivalent. The equivalent must be suitable in form (it follows the rules of the language) and function (it clearly says what it is supposed to say). Terminologists must also consider related existing terms, as each term is part of a larger vocabulary that must be consistent.

Sharing information

Terminologists inform others of new equivalents using the relevant sources. This is vital to language professionals and people in finance using them consistently in all texts. This is a job that must be done very quickly; otherwise, incorrect equivalents can spread and create a lot of confusion.

Versacom: Your trusted partner in meeting these challenges

With comprehensive expertise and fully certified processes, Versacom has everything it takes to provide efficient, secure and high-quality financial translation services. We have a proven track record in virtually all industries, and with all document and project types.

Our clients include

  • Canada’s big banks
  • Big names in investment and insurance
  • Departments and agencies from all levels of government
  • A multitude of accounting, law and actuarial services firms

For nearly 30 years, a number of financial institutions have outsourced their linguistic services operations and teams to us entirely.

Our hundreds of experts are eager to put Versacom’s capacity and professionalism to work for you. Contact us to find out how we can become partners.

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