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The Right Translation Strategy Can Help You Rest Easy

As a compliance officer, you’re under-appreciated. It’s not hard to come away with that impression after reading Joanna Belbey’s article in Forbes (referenced below), “7 Nightmares Keeping Chief Compliance Officers Awake at Night.”

Your team is often the scape-goat when senior executives are “shocked” to learn of legal and regulatory exposures. Yet when compliance issues are successfully managed, you typically encounter an air of expectation and a pressure to reduce budgets.

Further complicating the challenges for your team is an explosion of foreign language content and communications that must be translated before being assessed for compliance purposes. Otherwise, huge exposures could potentially be missed.

As a solution to the “nightmares” raised in the Forbes article, here are 7 suggestions to help you sleep better.

“You’re likely to be far more at risk in your foreign operations than in the US, yet your focus may be the reverse.”

1) Protect Your Personal Liability Internationally

Compliance officers are shouldering the risk when their company’s practices are found to be lacking. Non-English documents and communications are often not scrutinized internally to the same degree as the original English content.

Here are just a couple of causes: Your English-speaking team members may be unconsciously avoiding something linguistically and culturally unfamiliar. Secondly, your foreign employees operate within a culturally different frame of reference, so US-centric compliance regulations may be unnatural to them and either forgotten or inadvertently ignored.

But given the amount of work we do for government regulatory agencies, you can bet the other side is not shy about looking for your legal exposures in whichever language(s) they reside. You’re likely to be far more at risk in your foreign operations than in the US, yet your focus may be the reverse.

Consider realigning your focus to put more emphasis on international communications.

2) Optimize Your Budget by Going Hybrid

Lack of sufficient budget in compliance has become business as usual. Foreign language translation costs, like everything else, go under the microscope.

For foreign language translations, the choice is often between machine translation (MT), which is often seriously inaccurate and very risky for compliance purposes, and human translation which is high quality but expensive. In most instances, your best solution is a hybrid approach that starts with MT but adds the desired level of human post-editing to optimize for both quality and budget.

(Note: Linguistic Systems offers 6 optimization options, and other translation companies offer hybrid options as well.)

3) Foreign Finesse vs. Fines

There was a time when senior executives tolerated an acceptable level of non-compliance and just paid the fines. Not anymore. Fines are much larger today according to Forbes, and the risk to a company’s reputation and ongoing business are too great.

Global corporations are often seen as a lucrative target by European or other non-US regulatory bodies. And you can be sure they know their languages, business practices, and loopholes better than you do.

You must arm yourself with the highest quality, most-accurate, foreign language translations possible. Your outcome in court may one day depend on it.

4) Map Out a Better Foreign Language Compliance Process

When new regulations come forth, and you have thousands of employees around the world who need to be updated and trained in their native languages, translations can’t be an after-thought. They must be integral to your ongoing process.

Similarly, when an international exposure is discovered — hopefully in its early stage and by your team, not a regulatory agency — you don’t want it to be a chaotic, stressful event that is outside your normal process.

There are ways to identify, respond to, and reduce exposures from foreign language content and business practices. A highly-experienced translation services company should be able to advise you on translation best practices, at no charge.

(Note: Linguistic Systems offers free consulting expertise and has earned and maintains 3 ISO certifications for Quality Management, Translation Services Quality, and Information Security.)

5) Proactivity vs. Zero Tolerance

Too often, drastic corrective measures (including firings) are implemented when non-compliance issues arise. The Forbes article cites international banks as too reliant on this approach.

Accurate translation can often prevent misunderstanding and reveal problems at an early point, before serious infractions get out of hand. Monitoring through translation is a modest cost for continuously maintaining control of compliance issues.

6) The eDiscovery Channel

An explosion of new channels of communication, including many that may be largely unknown in the US, can be scary for compliance officers. How do you monitor communications and mitigate exposures in channels you don’t even know are being used?

By filtering these communications through an eDiscovery platform like kCura’s Relativity, you maintain better control over your out-of-country communications.

And when Relativity encounters foreign language content, Linguistic Systems’ STS Translation Plugin for Relativity enables your team to handle the translations quickly, seamlessly, and affordably – without executing a separate process.

7) Technology Can Help You Save

Compliance teams are now expected to manage vast amounts of data at modest cost. As noted above, kCura’s Relativity, pre-loaded with the LSI Translation Plugin for Relativity, is a best-in-class solution used extensively by the legal community and major corporations to process massive amounts of English or foreign language data.

By processing translations within Relativity using the unique LSI plugin, it is not uncommon to save a third of the cost of translations.


Hopefully, a few of these solutions will help you to sleep a bit better, knowing that foreign language translations can help monitor activity in other cultures in ways that can minimize processing time and cost.

“7 Nightmares Keeping Chief Compliance Officers Awake at Night” was written by Joanna Belbey and published in Forbes on July 29, 2016.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Linguistic Systems has delivered high-quality translations in 120+ languages for 50 years. Trust us with your next translation project.