Translation of banking documents

When we talk about translation in the world of banking, financial translation automatically comes to mind, since in many cases financial texts are issued by banking institutions. However, some specialists in this field have highlighted the fact that there is no single type of financial translation, but that it can be subdivided into multiple groups with their own characteristics. In this respect, the world of banking offers a sub-specialty within financial translation; however, instead of speaking of banking translation, we will speak of translation of banking documents, as we consider that these translations refer more to a banking lexicon than to texts per se.

Well, the first aspect to bear in mind when dealing with banking documents is that the best we can do is an equivalent translation, i.e. one in which the terms that appear in the source text are adapted to the target language in such a way that they are perfectly legible according to their meaning and context. This leads us, in many cases, to the need to resort to terminological sources to find out which is the most appropriate term for what we want to express. If this is not done, there is a risk of not knowing what is being said and that the information given does not reach the addressee correctly.

Another characteristic of this type of translation is the progressive trend towards lexical unification, especially in international markets, with a clear preponderance of English as the lingua franca. In the foreign market, there are three areas that translators must keep in mind when dealing with banking documents: economic, legal (and within the legal field, especially commercial law, international law and criminal law) and banking law itself. In addition, the money market could be added to these three areas, because knowledge of the different currencies and their valuation in stock market exchanges must be known at the time the banking document is translated.

However, this unification we are talking about seems to take place behind closed doors, since at the national level the terminology used is different in each bank, which means an added difficulty for the translator of banking documents. For example, given the lender/lendee binomial, there are banks that use the pair “giver”/ “taker”, others “creditor”/ “debtor”, and others “lender”/ “borrower”; the meaning is exactly the same: the one who gives or lends, on the one hand, and the one who takes or receives, on the other. Furthermore, this terminological differentiation may be caused not only by a mere question of preference according to the bank, but there may also be an underlying intentionality. For example, the word “lender”, in the general conditions of a personal credit policy or commercial loan, tends to disappear, being replaced by others such as “surety” or “guarantor”. Certainly, we cannot say for sure what the real reason for this is, but what is clear is that the word “lender” has a very strong connotation: a person who lends money at interest. It is not surprising, therefore, that banks try to soften this terminology somewhat, conveying a certain sense of security to the customer.

Therefore, in banking language, the communicative intention of the message is an element that must be taken into account, being able to distinguish two main types of texts according to their intention: on the one hand, bank texts of an eminently informative nature (risk analysis , balance sheets, income statements…), and, on the other, texts of an argumentative nature, which include all those advertising documents from a bank in which they try to convince the customer of the advantages of their financial products. The latter have to adapt their texts to the needs and demands of the client, so it is convenient that they are written in such a way that the client can understand it and feel attracted by the offer.

The translation of bank texts may be necessary in multiple situations and procedures: mergers and acquisitions operations, obtaining financial resources, commercial collaborations, accounting services, etc. In all these cases, it is necessary to have a specialized professional translator.

At FAST.txt we have the best translators specialized in more than 50 languages, including in the banking and finance sector. If you need to hire a translation service in this field, do not hesitate to contact us: you can depend on FAST.txt.

Carlos Sánchez Luis

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