How to produce your international annual report

Best Practices

International annual report

An annual report, also known as a Universal Registration Document (URD), is the most strategically important document that a company publishes during the year, as it contains influential information for regulators and investors, including those based in other countries. These lengthy reports need to be translated as they are being produced, requiring strong project management from translation agencies and linguistic expertise and in depth knowledge of complex topics from translators.


What are the requirements for an annual report?

All companies trading on the stock market in the EU are required to produce an annual report, containing information on the current health and future prospects of a company, such as:

  • Annual financial reports
  • Corporate governance
  • Risk factors
  • Share capital
  • Business model and strategy
  • Vision and values
  • Social and environmental responsibility

The exact list of areas covered can vary by company and annual reports can be anywhere between 150 and 800 pages long, but certain aspects of the content and format are regulated.

For example, the EU requires listed companies to produce financial reports according to international financial reporting standards (IFRS). When it comes to non-financial information, companies must report on their policies in relation to environmental and social responsibility, human rights, anti-corruption and bribery and diversity on company boards.


How are annual reports evolving?

From 2021, financial reports produced by companies across the EU must follow the same format. While they used to be published as a PDF, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) now requires financial reports to be submitted in the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF). This means that the reports available online are published in XHTML, to be read by humans, with financial information available in the machine-readable iXBRL format.


What is the purpose of an annual report?

The publication of an annual report, or URD, helps to improve transparency, which is useful for regulatory bodies. It is also a key source of information for investors. To meet the needs of international investors, URDs are translated from their original language into English. These translations are published shortly after the original document in order to be fair to investors abroad.

4 reasons to use a professional translation agency for your annual report

 Given the length and breadth of annual reports, the task of translating them presents some specific challenges. Finding a translation agency that provides effective solutions will make all the difference.

1. Specialized and highly skilled translators

Investors abroad rely on translated annual reports to guide their investment decisions, so it is imperative that translations are of the highest quality. Translating these reports therefore requires specialist knowledge of the subject matter. As well as fully understanding the text in the original language, financial translators need a full range of vocabulary and a thorough understanding of the topic in the target language, in order to express the text’s meaning accurately.

So that they can be certain of providing their clients with high quality translations, agencies generally only entrust the translation of annual reports to a select few translators, who are highly skilled and experienced. Depending on which part of the document a translator will be working on, they will be specialized in finance, legal and regulatory matters or the client’s sector.

2. Creation and translation in a dedicated platform

 Added to the issue of quality is the pressure of submission deadlines, which are set by governing bodies, and the fact that modifications often need to be made to a report up until the last minute before the publication deadline.

To overcome this challenge of providing high quality translations to tight deadlines, one solution is a dedicated platform, developed for the creation and translation of annual reports. Both clients and translators have access to this platform, so that while clients edit their source language text in one tab, the translator can also work on the target language version in another tab.

Working with a tailor-made platform has several benefits:

Time savings

No need to copy and paste any text, as changes are made directly in the platform.


Translators can work on edits to the text as they are made, including right up until the deadline.

Simultaneous publication

Working quickly and flexibly means that both versions can be published at the same time, benefitting the company and its investors.


3. Streamline communication

To provide an efficient translation service, a dedicated project manager will be assigned to every project so that clients know exactly who to contact. On top of this, large language service providers with offices on other continents are able to offer a point of contact until late at night, meaning that there will always be someone available to accompany clients who are working hard to meet their deadlines.

4. Additional services in-house

Custom-built translation platforms and effective communication go a long way to solving the challenges of URD translation, but, given the complexity of these documents, their production requires more than just translation services. Working with many suppliers at the same time can be time-consuming, so finding an agency that can provide other in-house services means fewer contact people for the client to deal with.


What additional services can a translation agency offer?

Graphic design

Many clients want to include modern graphics that display information in a clear and attractive format. Some sections of an annual report, such as the company’s values, are worth investing in, as they do not generally need to change every year.

Proofreading and copywriting consultation

Words are just as important as visuals when it comes to communicating with investors and such an influential document needs well-written prose with flawless grammar. In addition to translating an annual report, linguists can proofread the original text and give consultation on its style and tone. Language service providers have extensive experience in proofreading all types of text, as this is an important final step of any translation project. Many also offer copywriting services, composing original content to effectively convey your company’s message, such as clarifying the firm’s vision and values.


In summary…

Translating an annual report is a huge undertaking that requires linguistic and subject matter expertise and the use of specially built collaborative platforms. An agency that combines this with additional services in the production stage will make this task far more manageable for your company.

Do you need to produce and translate an annual report? Contact us!