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Difficulties When Translating Financial Statements

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Difficulties When Translating Financial Statements

It is highly important to work professionally and strictly on translating and revising texts, not only to offer a product that contains the highest quality and is 100% equivalent to the original text, but also to avoid potential problems related to an error-ridden translation, which can, especially when dealing with Financial Statements, be highly important since the quality of the translation can affect the signing of contracts worth millions of dollars or even cause a company to lose millions of dollars as the result of an error. The following is some of the main aspects to consider when working on Financial Statements:


It is immediately apparent that this is one of the fundamental aspects that must be considered very carefully. It is essential that no number is added, eliminated, changed, or moved. Also to be considered is the punctuation and annotation system in the target country, since the period/decimal system changes between the English-speaking world and the Spanish-speaking world. Specifically, punctuation of numbers in Vietnamese be converted from comma in English numbers and versa vice, for example: 2.53 (English) is converted into 2,53 (Vietnamese). In case of translation of subsidiary of affiliate’s financial statements to prepare consolidated financial statements, numbers on the statement shall be converted into the currency at the exchange rate that the parent company uses comply with the accounting standards of parent company’s nation.

False cognates

Another important problem are the “false friends” that can lead us to believe that we are doing an accurate translation when in reality we are translating something incorrectly. Some of the most common examples in English for a Spanish audience would be:
  • Controller: the literal translation would be “controlador”, but the correct translation is “supervisor financiero (de una empresa)”.
  • Hedge fund: the literal translation would be “fondo defensivo”, whereas the correct translation is “fondo de inversión de alto riesgo”.


This is possibly the most common problem for financial translations, since new terms are created at a dizzying rate and language professionals do not have time to create a standard translation that applies to all individual markets. Thus, the translator must make the decision on his or her own and decide on a word or phrase that is adequate for the document and the target language and country.

More difficult form of translation

Translating financial statement in foreign languages is sometimes considered more difficult than other technical translations. The finanial legal terminology is what makes it difficult because each country has its own financial legal terminology as well as economics legal system. More often than not, this is also different from another country even if the language they speak is identical. In addition to the quality aspect, the translation of financial statements emphasizes on the timely and confidential aspects. These not only help the translation services provider to maintain their reputation, but also help their customers to avoid losses because of due delays or leakage of financial statements information. It is thus very important to underscore the importance of relying on professional translators to perform financial translations who offer high-quality services and understand the significant ramifications that poor quality or incorrect translations can have for a company or institution.

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Trang Tran, Associate Translator

Trang Tran, Associate Translator