Translating annual reports: what to remember

Laura Mangels
A.C.T. GmbH


Übersetzung Geschäftsbericht | Geschäftsbericht übersetzen | Aufbau Geschäftsbericht | Wie schreibt man Geschäftsbericht | Translation annual report | Translate annual report | How to write annual report

What events occurred this year? How much revenue was generated? And what are the company’s plans for the future? These are just some of the questions that a company annual report should answer. Whereas the financial statements it contains are legally required for listed companies, many organizations choose to publish an annual report on a voluntary basis. 

That’s because it serves not only as a basis for business planning, but also as an effective marketing tool for stakeholders. It can influence a company’s future flow of funds and foster a positive image.

However, if you want investors from the US, customers in France and suppliers from Poland to understand your annual report, you can’t just publish it in German. This calls for a professional translation of the annual report that is every bit as good as the original in terms of quality and content.

In this blog post, we reveal how to write an annual report that will promote your company effectively, and how to publish it in different languages.

What is an annual report and what does it contain?

For financial experts, the annual report is an important document on which to base the value of a company. As long as it’s written in a compelling manner, it gives companies an opportunity to impress new customers, shareholders, suppliers, investors and other stakeholders. Therefore, the annual report is so much more than just a report that summarizes business performance throughout the year, the current economic situation as well as the company’s annual financial statements. As such, it is an important business card that can shape the future success of the company.

In Germany, all corporations such as stock corporations, limited liability companies, banks and insurance companies are required to publish annual financial statements and these must be submitted to the Federal Gazette within twelve months of the end of the financial year. However, many other institutions, NGOs, associations and companies also choose to publish an annual report for corporate image management and to build trust.

The content and structure of the annual report adheres to statutory regulations known as reporting standards. For companies with a reporting obligation, the elements that are legally required include:

  • The management report: describes the financial and economic situation of the company, provides an outlook of future trends and an insight into planned objectives and measures.
  • The annual report: contains the balance sheet and the profit and loss account and shows the breakdown of equity capital and loan capital and whether the company has debts.
  • The report by the supervisory board: discloses how the supervisory board in a stock corporation examined the annual financial statements and monitored day-to-day operations.
  • Corporate governance declaration: confirms that the German code of conduct for supervisory boards and management boards was observed.
  • The auditor’s report: confirms that the management report is correct and accurately presents future trends

In addition, the report can be “enriched” with voluntarily disclosed information to make it more readable and to enhance its promotional effect. Examples of this type of information include:

  • Brief des Vorstands: vermutlich der wichtigste und persönlichste Teil des Geschäftsberichts, um Aktionär:innen über die wichtigsten Geschäftsereignisse des Jahres zu informieren und eine Zukunftsprognose zu wagen. #
  • Sustainability report: this is where the company presents all its eco-friendly policies and addresses possible environmental risks and protective measures.
  • CSR report: describes the structure and qualifications of the workforce, and outlines further education and training measures. It may also highlight individual employee profiles.
Übersetzung Geschäftsbericht | Geschäftsbericht übersetzen | Aufbau Geschäftsbericht | Wie schreibt man Geschäftsbericht | Translation annual report | Translate annual report | How to write annual report

Getting the job done: how do I write an annual report?

Although an annual report contains many columns of numbers and text passages, you can employ the following techniques to transform it into a very readable document.

Make an impression

As with all official documents, first impressions count. A good, attractive cover is essential, especially if your report is published as a printed version and not just online. 

Use consistent terminology

Use consistent terminology but without too many technical terms. Remember that it is not only specialists who will read your annual report. Who are your primary target audience? Write with them in mind!

Write in the active voice and in a lively style

Use active verbs, keep your sentences short, and avoid convoluted structures. A financial report does not have to a dull read. Write in a lively style, ask questions and use images and metaphors to create an exciting story. 

Transform the annual report into a successful report for your stakeholders by explaining all the things their investments have allowed you to achieve. This will be much more impressive than simply listing off numbers.

Say it with pictures

In our fast-paced lives, people have very little time and a limited attention span. You should therefore avoid complexity and focus on what really matters. Clear graphics and diagrams help condense complex content, making it easier to understand.

Break up the report

Break up the long report with boxes and business profiles featuring individual employees, business units or business highlights. This underlines your professionalism and makes the report more readable. Avoid using long passages of pure text and use subheadings to structure the pages clearly. It is important to maintain a common thread throughout and to focus on the most important statements.

Have the report reviewed by professionals

No matter how many times you check your report, you will probably never find all the spelling mistakes and ambiguities. Therefore, it is essential to have the annual report checked by a professional proofreader. This will ensure that the spelling of names, products and measurements is consistent.

Translate the annual report – but do it right

For companies in Germany, annual reports and annual accounts are an important part of their communications with stakeholders. By translating the annual report into another language, companies can expand their target audience and globalize their brand.

However, financial translations are complex: a poorly translated annual report may even omit essential information, leading to major problems. The last thing you want to do is discourage your stakeholders and potential investors with incorrect information. But how can you be sure the translation of your company’s annual report will be of professional quality?

Choose a translation agency whose translators are not only native speakers of the target language but who have also specialized in financial translations and in your industry. They know the correct terminology and can guarantee that every word, every number and every message is also 100 % correct in the translated report.

The financial translators at ACT Translations have the technical and linguistic know-how required to provide you with a professional translation of what is probably your most important document of the year.

Request a translation of your annual report

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