By george rimalower
Breaking the Language Barrier
iSi translation Services
grow your business with successful cross-cultural communication
Mortgage brokers constantly are looking for ways to expand their client bases and removing a communication barrier is certainly
a step in the right direction. A company
that communicates with clients in their
native languages immediately can set itself apart from the competition and win
One way for a company to attract a particular group of non-English native speakers is to translate its financial services
and marketing materials into this group’s
language and in addition, perhaps have
one or two staff members who speak the
language fluently. This will help eliminate
any concerns clients may have regarding
the company’s services or processes.
credit consequences in case of default.
If a Spanish-language brochure sends a
potential client to an English-only website, you probably will lose this client.
Similarly, if you don’t have a staff member who can take a phone call in this
particular foreign language, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
• • •
Having a successful bilingual team and
well-translated material can be reward-
ing for everyone involved. Borrowers will
have better understandings of the pro-
cess and will be in a better position to
make knowledgeable decisions regard-
ing the type of loan products they take
out. Mortgage originators and compa-
nies also can reduce the cost of account
maintenance and attract more loyal
customers who eventually may turn into
reliable sources of referrals. •
Many mortgage companies recognize
the role that the Hispanic community
plays in the recovery of the housing
sector. This past March, the national
Association of Hispanic Real Estate
Professionals reported that Hispanics
increasingly were driving growth in
housing demand. For instance, in third-
quarter 2011, Hispanic homeowner-
ship increased by 47. 6 percent, making
up more than half of the total growth
in homeownership nationwide in the
same period, according to the report.
When a mortgage company decides to
produce marketing or financial services
information in a foreign language, the
trick is to begin with high-quality written
material to make the translation process
more efficient and more accurate. Keep
in mind the following points:
• Typos and incorrect punctuation can
alter the meaning of a sentence.
• Ambiguous writing forces a translator
to decipher what the writer is trying to
• Some languages use more words
than English. A translated document
can be 25 percent to 35 percent longer, which can cause problems and
delays when the text has to fit into a
• Date and number formats, colors and
symbols vary in use and meaning
from one culture to another.
In addition, don’t forget to examine
the entire chain of communication.
george rimalower is founder and president
of ISI Translation Services ( ISItrans.com), a
language-services company founded in 1982
that specializes in financial services, health
care and other industries. ISI was one of the
first translation companies to address the
special linguistic and cultural needs of both
non- and limited-English-proficient communities in the United States. ISI is based
in Los Angeles, with hundreds of translators
in the United States and worldwide. Reach
Rimalower at grimalower@ISItrans.com.
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