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Specialist translation - Financial translation

Financial translation

Persistent uncertainty regarding the global economy and heightened anxiety concerning the economic situation in the Eurozone has increased the demand for the right information at the right time. This means that more financial-related information needs to be translated in an accurate and timely manner. In order to be successful, financial translators need to be aware of the significant developments in the industries they serve. I will address some of the most relevant developments affecting 10 key sectors within the financial industry. For each sector, I will offer a brief assessment of the potential volume of work available, the complexity of the work involved, the amount of reliable information available for further research, and how fast each sector is growing.

1. Accounting
Accounting documents such as financial statements represent a significant source of work for financial translators. For example, according to Deloitte, financial statements have doubled in length over the past 16 years, and are now 52% longer than in 2005.

2. Auditing
Within the European Union (EU), the European Commission has proposed far-reaching reforms to the auditing profession in the wake of the global financial crisis. The proposals have two main objectives:

1) To reduce concentration in the market for audits through new requirements around audit tendering and auditor appointment.

2) To address perceived threats to auditor independence resulting from audit firm rotation and limits on non-audit services.

While these reforms may not result in significant linguistic changes for financial translators, the potential work-related implications they will generate for translators will be high. Auditing firms, which are important purchasers of translation services, will be transformed if some of these reforms are adopted.

3. Banking
The banking sector is an obvious source of work for financial translators, as it has been at the center of the current economic crisis. The level of translation difficulty of these reforms is considered very high since they include complex calculations to determine the appropriate reserves for banks.

4. Business Services
The economic slowdown has affected, in one way or another, virtually all types of businesses regardless of size, location, or industry in which they operate. As a result, businesses worldwide have required professional advice to try and overcome the challenges involved, ranging from liquidity shortages and downsizing programs to regulatory advice. As such, companies providing consulting and advisory services are a significant source of work for financial translators.

The level of complexity of these business services can be considered medium-high, depending on the project itself. The potential volume of work can also be considered medium high, since most of the largest companies currently require services of this nature.

5. International Trade
Business transactions among companies trading internationally and their consumers who speak different languages have traditionally been an essential source of translation work. The level of complexity within the field of international trade can be considered medium on the basis that its main purpose is for the buyer and seller to agree quickly and successfully on the main terms and conditions of their transaction. The potential volume of work should be considered high. The reason is that international trade volume continues to grow, even in the current economic climate (14.5% in 2010 and 6.5% in 2011, according to the World Trade Organization).
The availability of information can be considered medium-high, since there are plenty of official statistics and other resource material in this field, although what is available may also depend on the specific company or industry.

6. International Institutions
International institutions tend to be large employers of in-house translators and significant buyers of translation. The current financial and political climate has put some of these institutions at the center of media focus, including the role the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and the EU played in the Eurozone crisis. This has resulted in endless pages being translated, both for the media and for financial institutions, and this volume is expected to continue. The level of complexity of translation work in this area can be considered medium-high, in particular in relation to the Eurozone crisis. The potential volume of work should also be considered high, although access to this work is not as open as in the private market, as it is filtered through various tendering processes depending
on the institution.

7. Financial Services
The financial services sector represents the essence of the financial industry. Due to its international nature, this sector is a significant source of translation work. The level of complexity of the translation work in this area can be considered high, largely due to the opaque nature of traditional financial services. The potential volume of work should also be considered high due to its international nature and the high prevalence of financial services at all levels.

8. Insurance
Insurance documents are considered to be some of the most complex and challenging for financial translators. The potential volume of work in this area can be considered medium, perhaps because it is less international than other financial sectors. The level of complexity of the work is undoubtedly high, involving plenty of specialized terms and complicated calculations.

9. Investment Management
The mention of the investment management sector here refers mainly to the areas of asset and fund management (i.e., the professional management of various assets in order to meet specified investment goals for the benefit of investors). Investment funds generate a significant amount of work for translators due to the need to keep investors informed on a timely and ongoing basis. The potential volume of work in this area can be considered high due to the international nature of investors. This type of work is also relatively complex, with plenty of industry-specific terms. The volume of reliable information available is considered medium due to its relatively high level of presence and its opaque nature. This is considered a rapidly evolving sector because of its intangible nature and increased marketing.

10. Public Sector

The public sector is that portion of society controlled by national, state or provincial, and local governments. In relation to the current economic climate, it is important to highlight that, while the effects of the global financial crisis hit the private sector full force in 2008, it took another three years before the public sector began to feel the pain. As a result of this “delay” in addressing the crisis, most governments are now trying to reduce their deficits in various ways and are more eager than ever, especially in the Eurozone, to let the international community know about their initiatives and achievements. The result is an increased demand for translation. The level of complexity of the initiatives being implemented by national governments can be considered medium-high, especially those relating to the Eurozone crisis. The potential volume of work available can also be considered high, although access to work with government institutions is not as open as in the private market because jobs are filtered through various tendering processes.

The original article was published in the January 2013 issue of The ATA Chronicle and was written by Javier Gil Gonzalez.

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