British/American Financial Terms Business Vocabulary

Words and phrases used in British / American financial vocabulary - free for students of business English who need to learn business vocabulary. Business English for ESL learners.

An airport departures board is a list of all the flights that are departing from a particular airport. The information on the board includes the flight number, the destination, the time of departure, and the gate number.There are a few key financial terms that are used differently in Britain and America. Here’s a quick guide to help you understand them.

British                                                 American

Annual General Meeting (AGM) Annual Stockholders Meeting

Articles of Association                 Bylaws

authorized share capital                 Authorized capital stock

barometer stock                         Bellwether stock

base rate                                           Prime rate

bonus or capitalisation issue           stock dividend or stock split

bridging loan                                   bridge loan

building society                           savings and loan association

cheque                                           check

company                                           corporation

creditors                                           accounts payable

current account                           checking account

debtors                                           accounts receivable

gilt-edged stock (gilts)                   Treasury bonds

labour                                             labor

Memorandum of Association           Certificate of Incorporation

merchant bank                                     investment bank

ordinary share                                     common stock

overheads                                     overhead

profit and loss account                 income statement

property                                         real estate

quoted company                         listed company

retail price index (RPI)               consumer price index (CPI)

share premium                                 paid-in surplus

shareholder                                 stockholder

shareholders' equity                         stockholders' equity

stock                                         inventory

trade union                                 labor union

unit trusts                                         mutual funds

visible trade                                 merchandise trade


In the UK, the term “pension” refers to the government-provided retirement benefits that are paid to citizens. In the US, the term “pension” generally refers to benefits provided by an employer.

Another key difference is the way in which mortgages are typically structured. In America, mortgages are typically 30-year loans. In Britain, they are usually much shorter – around 15 to 20 years. This is because house prices are generally much higher in Britain, so the shorter loan term helps to keep monthly repayments more manageable.

There are also a few key tax differences to be aware of. In the US, there is a federal income tax which is applied to all citizens. In Britain, there is no federal income tax, but there is a national insurance contribution which is deducted from wages.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the terms “leaving certificate” and “GCE” have different meanings in Britain and America. In the UK, a “leaving certificate” is the equivalent of a high school diploma. A “GCE” is a higher level qualification, similar to an American “college degree”.