Among all the communications sent out by a company, few are as comprehensive, or as essential, as the annual report. This is why annual report translation is such a vital task and, thus, best trusted to a professional team that understands the nuances of an annual report.
An organization’s annual report performs several functions: financial, regulatory, even marketing and business development. Above all, it’s a faithful and accurate account of everything that occurred at the company during the previous fiscal year.
To ensure the details of your annual report are carefully transmitted across languages, it’s important to maintain a faithful translation from the source language into the target language.
What is an annual report?
An annual report is a comprehensive summary of an entity’s business and financial activities from the previous fiscal year. The report is written primarily for shareholders, customers, employees and the media, but the information is usually available to the public.
A typical annual report contains the following:
- A letter from the chair or CEO
- General company information, including the mission and vision statements and accomplishments from the previous year
- Plans for future activities and investments
- A financial and operational review
- A listing of the Board of Directors and executive management
- Financial statements including P&L and cash flow, plus notes on the accompanying financial statements
- The auditor’s report
In addition to providing valuable information, the annual report also fulfills reporting requirements enacted by federal and state agencies. Filing deadlines vary from one jurisdiction to another, but they all require key financial data – as well as a new report filed every year.
Why would you translate your annual report?
Companies translate annual reports in order to communicate recent activities to both local and global stakeholders.
A global company, nor surprisingly, is likely to have employees, customers and shareholders who speak different languages. Translating an annual report into these languages helps you keep these audiences up to date on your company’s past and future activities.
An annual report doesn’t just inform current investors – it can also attract potential investors. While your primary goal may be to communicate with current stakeholders, a translated annual report can also be a valuable tool for generating interest – and funding – from investors in other countries.
It can also help you increase visibility among global media agencies who would otherwise need time to translate the report on their own… and perhaps with generic tools that provide less than stellar quality. With a translated version, they can report on your company right away.
In short, a translated annual report serves as a communication tool and a business development vehicle.
Another reason to translate your annual report is because regulatory agencies need to see them, too.
Companies that operate internationally must file reports across borders. Whether you’re a U.S. subsidiary of a company headquartered overseas or a U.S. company with offices in other countries, you’ll need to submit your financial data to all relevant agencies in the countries in which you do business… in their primary languages.
Why expert annual report translation matters
When it comes to translation, fluency in the target language is the only the first requirement. The second is expertise in the field.
U.S. companies must comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Standards (GAAP) when producing financial statements. However, those that want to translate their reports to file in other countries will also need to comply with a mandatory structure established by the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation (IFRS).
Both sets of standards leave little room for ambiguity, so the translation team needs to be familiar with the reporting standards of the target language and know exactly what needs to be covered in your translated report.
A third requirement required from the translation team is expertise in different types of translation. Most annual reports include a combination of financial data, marketing communication and graphic layouts. Knowing how to translate all these types of content is important to make the translation of your annual report as thorough and precise as possible.
Whether you hire one translator to manage the project or an entire team, make sure they have the following expertise:
Technical translation: This will cover the financial data. Different languages have different rules for writing out numbers. They also work in different currencies. Some languages are read left-to-right, while some are read right-to-left. Understanding these differences is essential to translating your financial reports so international readers have the same information as your U.S. audience.
Transcreation: Although annual reports are meant to deliver content in a straightforward, serious manner, there are occasions when it includes more creative copy: successful ads, catchy headlines, etc. Sometimes the words don’t easily translate from one language into another, but a transcreation specialist will know how to get the point across while still adhering to the idiosyncrasies and sensitivities of the target language.
Desktop publishing: There are lots of charts and graphics in an annual report. It’s not as easy to translate these as you might think, which is why a multilingual DTP specialist will know how to transform your graphic content into the format and layout best suited for the target audience.
Writing your annual report requires a lot of contributions from members of different teams. Translation of an annual report takes just as much coordination. When you want to deliver your report to a global audience, make sure you assemble the most qualified team possible to manage all the complex information your report contains.