8 Grave Financial Translation and Localisation Errors and How to Avoid Them

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Localisation is adapting a product or service to a specific market. This usually includes translating the product or service into the local language, but can also involve things like culturally specific design changes. Financial localisation is adapting financial products and services for a specific market.

While translation & localisation for any industry is tricky, it’s trickier for the financial industry! From credit card statements to tax documents, there are many financial documents/content that need to be translated and localised. The world of finance is so regulated and nuanced, even a minor mistake in localisation can have big consequences. That’s why it’s so important to get it right.

Let’s look at some of the most common errors made in financial translation and localisation, and how you can avoid them.

Getting lost in the jargon jungle

One of the biggest challenges in financial translation and localisation is dealing with all the industry-specific jargon. There are so many terms and abbreviations that are unique to the world of finance, and it's tough to keep track of them all!

These jargons are unique to different countries as well. Just because a term is used in one country doesn’t mean people will understand it in another. For example, the term “ATM” (automated teller machine) is commonly used in the United States, but in the UK, it might be referred to as a “cash point” or a “hole in the wall.”

Problems with punctuation

Punctuation might seem like a minor detail, but it’s actually really important in localisation, especially in the finance industry. That’s because different languages have different rules for punctuation, and if you don’t use the correct punctuation, the values are completely different.

For example, in the US, they use a decimal point to denote cents. So, they would write $10 as 10.00. But in some European countries, they use a comma instead of a decimal point. So, 10.00 would be written as 10,00. Now imagine, if you’re translating a price list from English to French and you don’t change the decimal point to a comma, your prices will be off by a factor of 100!

Losing to long and short scales

While on number systems, another common mistake in financial translation and localisation is not understanding the long and short scales.

Different countries use different number scales. Now, this can go unnoticed when discussing numbers smaller than 1,000,000,000. But when you get into the trillions, it can cause some serious confusion.

For example, 1,000,000,000 on the short scale is called a billion but on the long scale, it is called milliard. And 1,000,000,000,000 on the short scale is a trillion but on the long scale, it is called a billion.

Confusing right?

Cultural confusion

Another common error made in financial localisation is failing to consider the cultural context. Just because something makes sense in one culture doesn’t mean it will make sense in another.

For example, in the United States, we use the term “401 (k)” to refer to a retirement savings plan. But this term doesn’t exist in other countries. It is called Superannuation in Australia and New Zealand, Employee Provident Funds in India and Singapore. So, one needs to keep an eye out for this.

Missing the message

There are many stories where the brand's message was completely lost in translation and even ended up stirring controversies. Many of them had to pay loads of money for rebranding and cleaning up these messes.

One such story is of KFC in China. When it first launched in China, its slogan was “finger-lickin’ good”. But when they translated it into Mandarin, it came out as “eat your fingers off”. Not exactly the message they were going for!

Financial brands aren't immune to such errors. In 2012, HSBC launched a new marketing campaign with the slogan “Assume nothing”. But when it was translated into Spanish, it came out as “Do nothing”, which completely changed the meaning of the message.

Not researching regulations and compliance

When translating and localising financial content, it’s important to be aware of the regulatory environment in the target country. Different countries have different laws and regulations governing the financial industry, and if you’re not familiar with them, you could end up getting into trouble.

For example, in the United States, strict laws govern how financial institutions can advertise their products and services. But in other countries, such as China, these regulations are much less strict.

The financial procedures differ too. In France, for example, you need to get a notarized copy of your passport before opening a bank account. But in the United States, you can just show up at the bank with your social security number and a government-issued ID.

Not being familiar with the regulatory environment in the target country can lead to costly mistakes. So, it’s important to do your research and work with a localisation partner who is familiar with the regulations in the target country.

Being careless with confidentiality guidelines

Localising financial content requires a high level of security and confidentiality. After all, you’re dealing with sensitive information that might be used for fraud or identity theft.

To protect this information, it’s important to follow strict confidentiality guidelines. This includes encrypting files, using secure file-sharing platforms, and destroying all copies of the localised content after it’s no longer needed.

Failing to follow these guidelines could lead to costly mistakes, such as data breaches or fines from regulatory bodies. So, it’s important to be careful and work with a localisation partner who you can trust.

Not Testing the Localised Content

After the localised content is ready, it’s important to test it to make sure that it works as intended. This includes testing for typos, grammar errors, and incorrect translations.

It’s also important to test the localised content on different devices and in different browsers. This is especially important for financial brands because their customers often use different devices and browsers to access their accounts.

Testing the localised content is crucial to avoid any potential issues when it goes live. So, work with a localisation partner who can provide quality assurance (QA) services.

How to avoid these translation and localisation errors

Now that we’ve gone over some of the most common financial translation and localisation errors, let’s look at how you can avoid them.

Work with a reputable translation and localisation company

Working with a reputable translation and localisation company is one of the best ways to avoid mistakes. A good language service provider like Translate by Humans will have a team of experienced professionals who are familiar with the financial industry and the regulatory environment in the target country.

We also ensure native speakers of the target language translate and localise your content. This is important because they’re familiar with the culture and the way people in the target country communicate. Plus, the turnaround time is short, we provide quality assurance and you get a dedicated project manager who will help to coordinate all aspects of the project.

Do your research

Before translation and localisation begins, it’s important to do your research and understand the target market. This includes understanding the culture, the language, and the regulatory environment.

Have an editor review the content

Irrespective of the translation/localisation services you use, it is important to have an editor review the content post-translation. This will help to ensure accuracy and consistency throughout the localised content. You can never review a work too many times!

Conclusion

By following these tips, you can avoid common mistakes and ensure that your localised financial content is accurate and compliant. At Translate by Humans, we provide specialised financial translation services so that you don’t have to struggle with any of these errors. You can delegate your localisation work to our expert translators who will ensure error-free translation.

Do you have questions about financial localisation? Let us know in the comments below!

Aiswarya Menon

Aiswarya Menon

Aiswarya Menon is a Content Writer at Translate By Humans. Driven by a passion to make an impact through her words, she takes pride in coming up with creative ideas to engage the reader. When she is not reading, writing or ideating, Aiswarya enjoys going on long drives or to the beach, watching old sitcoms all over again, and fantasizing about her next solo trip.
Aiswarya Menon

Aiswarya Menon

Aiswarya Menon is a Content Writer at Translate By Humans. Driven by a passion to make an impact through her words, she takes pride in coming up with creative ideas to engage the reader. When she is not reading, writing or ideating, Aiswarya enjoys going on long drives or to the beach, watching old sitcoms all over again, and fantasizing about her next solo trip.
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