As in almost every industry, digitisation has now also found its way into financial services. According to Deloitte, the realignment and digitisation of their customer interactions is a top strategic priority for more than half of all financial service providers faced with fierce competition from FinTech firms and online banks, and retail banks are now turning to new technologies to boost their growth.
It’s unsurprising, as the competition is already a few steps ahead of retail banks in the area of customer interaction. Providers have understood that digital technologies give customers more control, more choice and easier access to their money. In return, they get better access to data from which they can draw conclusions about customer behaviour and forecast sales growth and profitability. Global companies are investing large sums in areas, such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, blockchain, process automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) to bring their systems up to date and make them fit for the future.
Continuous investment in new tools and platforms as well as accurate localisation of products and services are necessary in order to comply with financial rules and regulations that vary from country to country. The digitisation of the customer experience also affects a number of interactions that require translations in the financial sector. Let’s explore some of the translation and localisation applications we expect to see more of in the near future.
Digital documents in the financial sector
Only a few end customers today still want documents such as annual reports and brochures in paper form. For many, digital transformation means better responsiveness, as information is immediately available. The shift to online reporting could actually give financial translators more flexibility in negotiating deadlines. With funds no longer having to allow time to print and send the reports, translators have more time to do their jobs before the documents are made available to investors worldwide. But in such a tightly regulated environment, the utmost care must be taken when implementing digital transformation. Translators in the financial sector are already very familiar with the complex and diverse financial rules of the individual countries. But with the advancing digitisation, they are facing new and interesting challenges.
Translation for chatbots
Chatbots are increasingly used in finance communications, handling anything from transactions, arranging car warranties and paying bills to portfolio management. However, as soon as a company goes beyond the boundaries of its home market, all chatbot content must also be available in the languages of the target markets. But it can be extremely difficult to train the machine learning algorithm behind a chatbot with the right words, phrases and synonyms. Translators in the financial sector, therefore, have to work with developers in many aspects. For example, how similarly formulated questions can be distinguished from each other supported by artificial intelligence or ensuring that the answers do not contradict the individual regulations of the respective country. These conversational interactions are also at odds with the formal language used in most financial documents. It therefore takes a careful balance between a relaxed tone of voice and high-precision information.
Translation for FinTech apps
Some of the problems with translations for chatbots also occur when financial service providers launch a global app. With mobile-only platforms however, the problem is often even more complex. Language-specific strings of different lengths can affect the user interface of an app.
The varying scripts also present developers with typographical challenges such as different types of accented characters or languages that read from right to left such as Arabic. In addition, app localisation for Apple iOS and Android platforms uses a similar, but not identical, key/string system. Here, the “Key” is the instruction for the app and the “String” is the accompanying text for the users. If translators want to successfully localise, they have to discuss with the developers which “strings” belong to which “key” – a task that would be difficult enough on its own without paying additional attention to the terminological and content requirements of the financial texts.
There are two approaches to improving the translation process of these new formats: on the one hand, internationalising the software in advance and preparing it for localisation, or, on the other hand, integrating localisation and linguistic tests into the project development cycle so that translations can be checked in context and functional problems can be eliminated before market launch.
Translation of digital pitch books
A pitch book is a distribution document used by investment banks and stock market traders to solicit new clients. These documents, usually in PDF format, are often comprised of up to 30 pages. With the increasing focus on an appealing and modernised customer experience, pitch books are increasingly becoming interactive presentations that get to the point quickly, and in an impactful way. With the integration of business intelligence tools like Microsoft Power BI or Tableau, language service providers need to continually adapt to new formats beyond standard PowerPoint or PDF presentations. While the initial task of translation and localisation will remain the same, a need for greater synergy between translation providers, developers and technical staff is increasingly needed for effective delivery.
Neural machine translation in translations of financial texts
Neural machine translation (NMT) has matured to the point where it can already translate certain financial documents for internal use. However, the translation often still has to be edited by an experienced post-editor. Interestingly, a good translator of financial texts is not automatically a good post editor. Post-editing machine-translated texts requires different skills and special training, and in this area, it is important to continuously acquire new techniques and knowledge. In view of the complex numbers and terminology of financial texts, it is unlikely that human intervention will be completely dispensed with in the near future. Nevertheless, it will be possible to produce correct translations of financial texts on a much larger scale.
The convoluted regulations of global finance will slow down the digital transformation in some areas of the industry. However, companies that give their international customers more control over their accounts and easier access to their services in any language are more agile and can provide a better overall user experience. Translators and language service providers in the financial sector are already experts in the linguistic part of these transactions.
With the increasing digitisation of customer interactions in this industry though, translators also need to understand the language of app developers and engineers. ALM Translations has always been a forward-looking language service provider. Our workflows are continually engineered to keep in line with the latest advances in both how our financial services clients require content to be translated and delivered, and how that content is to be consumed by the end-user.