Tag Archives: Francesca Airaghi

Why am I a financial translator?

Why am I a financial translator?

By Francesca Airaghi

Boring? It is not!

I might have done something else in my life. However, I have always wished to become a translator.
I could translate tourist guides, I love travelling! Possibly cookbooks, I like cooking!

Why am I a financial translator? In the beginnings, it was by chance. I started working in-house at a translation company specialising in finance and law. My educational background was foreign languages and literature. Over the years, I attended numerous courses on economics and the capital markets and worked side by side with experts. I have been a financial translator for more than 20 years now, and if you ask me why I am a financial translator, the answer is that I like it. I love my job.

Financial translation may be challenging though rewarding. People think it is boring or too complex and overlook a specialisation that can be profitable, a constantly growing sector. Volumes are increasing (there is a recent Deloitte study confirming it), and the financial translation sector is very wide, spanning from accounting such as annual reports, financial statements, to investment funds and asset management, banking, international trade, or corporate communication. A translator might know a lot about accounting but almost nothing about financial markets or asset management, or might not have the writing skills to translate corporate communication. You can choose to specialise in a niche. As a financial translator, I work with global companies, leading banks, worldwide asset managers. They are usually good paying clients.



Why would I recommend to other translators to specialise in finance? If you like being a translator, you certainly like continuous learning. Financial translators must keep up to date with current affairs, financial news, global events. It may be time consuming sometimes, though it is interesting and rewarding. Financial translation involves technical terminology and the knowledge of a special language, which is at the same time informative and emotional. First of all, financial translators need to understand the subject matter very well in order to translate appropriately.

Unfortunately, based on my experience as proofreader and recruiter, there are not so many professional financial translators. There is a lack of training courses in the field of financial translation that teach you the most common traps and give you the basics to understand finance and economics, how to find the resources and develop the appropriate communication skills. I constantly receive mentoring requests from my students and when I go to translation conferences, financial translators are always in very small number. My host Marcel Solé is a passionate trainer of financial translation from English into Spanish, and I am happy we had chance to meet and exchange ideas on the financial translation industry and specifically on teaching financial translation.

In October and November, I will conduct a 5 webinar series on financial translation on Prozcom, preceded by an introductory session on “How to become a successful financial translator”. The webinars will be conducted in Italian and will focus on English and Italian financial terminology. You can learn to be more confident in translating financial statements, economic news, and investment funds. To become a good financial translator, you need to understand. Starting from basic concepts (the Stock Exchange, return, inflation, the banking system), I will go through real-life examples of economic and financial language and frequent documents. You can learn the most common terminology in English and Italian and how to avoid the main tricks and traps for a financial translator (urgent assignments, technical terminology, special language). You can register for one webinar or for the entire series. Why? Because financial translation is not at all boring and could be a very profitable and rewarding specialisation. After more than 20 years translating, I would like to share what I have learned… and still learning.

Chasing money

Francesca Airaghi · Financial Translator

Interview with Francesca Airaghi, financial translator

It has been a pleasure to conduct an interview with Francesca Airaghi, a translator who has been working with financial companies, asset management companies, investment funds, banks, financial communication companies, law firms and international corporations for specialised translations.

  1. How and when did you get started as a financial translator?

In 1992, I graduated in Foreign Languages and started an apprenticeship at a translation company in Milan specialising in finance, corporate law and journalism. I attended a course in economics and finance, and after some months, I became in-house translator and proofreader, then Translation Manager. I specialised from direct experience and through constant learning over the years.

  1. Do you think financial translation is a good field of expertise?

First, it depends on your personal inclination. If you are willing to be constantly up-to-date with current affairs and you are able to cope with strict deadlines, the financial field may offer good opportunities. You can work with global companies and banks, solid asset management and investment companies, which have to translate a lot of financial material. However, this sector, like many other industries, may be volatile. It is a niche, though wide with many subgenres. I think it is up to you and your professionalism to succeed.

  1. From your point of view, what are the considerations a financial translator should take into account?

Finance is related to news, political, social and economic developments. In order to translate financial documents, you must understand the subject matter very well. Terminology is not enough. You must be constantly informed on global and national developments. Most importantly, you have to deal with time pressure. Capital markets do not wait. Translations are normally urgent, with a very quick turnaround (from a few hours to a couple of days for market commentaries or investment fund factsheets, a bit longer for quarterly or annual reports). Planning is challenging, you should be – or learn to become – a well-organised person.

  1. Some people consider finance is a rather tedious affair. What do you think about this?

In my opinion, each profession is at times boring, at times exciting. When I went to school, I wished to translate novels and romances. Over the years, I understood that finance and economics, as well as law and politics, are part of our everyday life. Translating news into Italian on the US “shutdown”, on the earthquake in Japan, or on the one-child policy in China is probably more interesting for me, and very much connected with real life.

  1. What has been your biggest professional challenge?

I have been translating from more than 20 years, so I could mention many projects that were particularly hard, for various reasons (deadlines, terminology, and relationship with the client). However, my biggest challenge was when I decided – after more than 10 years – to leave the (second) translation company where I was working in-house to become a freelancer. I knew I had the expertise and specialisation as translator and project manager as well, but not as an entrepreneur. I had to learn a lot, almost from scratch: marketing and accounting, and improving time management.

  1. Do you do anything to keep your translating skills sharp? Does it help to consume other media such as movies or documentaries in the language in which you’re working?

Yes, absolutely. I watch movies and videos in English. I read articles, blogs on freelancing and translation. Periodically, I also attend conferences and courses. I have found a lot of good on-line courses and webinars (including on Udemy, Proz, etc.), very useful and convenient because they are self-paced training. What I am missing a bit as a freelancer is the daily contact in person with international colleagues that is useful for feedback.

  1. You have been translating for some years. Has the market and the demand changed in the meantime?

Well, yes, from more than twenty years now. The translation market was and still is very fragmented, and it may be irregular and volatile. Globalisation and the Internet led to increased competition, even from unprofessional translators that work for very low rates. Translators’ visibility has improved in general, though not so much, at least in Italy. Probably, income diversification may help freelancers. However, most of my clients are still looking for quality and prefer a long-term relationship with the translator.

  1. Do you have a consistent strategy or technique that you employ in the mechanics of your translation routine?

I have developed a workflow both for the translation process and for my daily routine. As for translation, I start analysing the source text and client’s instructions, then look for specific terminology, translate a draft, revise, check interpretation, style, grammar, terminology, and then proofread again. It is a multiple-step process. As for my work routine in general, I try to avoid distractions. When I translate (usually in the morning), I focus on translation, then I organise my week to include training, reading, marketing, accounting, and a bit of yoga! I am using David Allen’s GTD method (Getting Things Done) to prioritise activities and focus on one task at a time. It makes me more productive.

  1. Are there any pitfalls to avoid in the translation business?

The biggest pitfall is to fossilize on one’s skills and not to learn continuously. Moreover, you have to manage “feast and famine”. And bad payers! There are very good translators who are bad entrepreneurs.

  1. What advice would you give to an up and coming translator?

I know it is not easy, however I would suggest to have an experience as in-house translator (even for free, if you can). It might be very useful to understand how this sector works. Mentoring might be a good solution for young translators, as well as spending time reading translation and freelance forums. When you start having success and clients, do not stop learning. Languages, specialisation, CAT tools, technical skills are of the essence, though do not forget “soft” skills, such as communication and teamwork.

Thanks again for sharing your expertise with us, Francesca. It is a pleasure to meet professional colleagues in the translation industry. I’m sure this interview will be of great interest to many visitors and translators.

www.francescaairaghi.it

www.francescaairaghi.it/blog/

Twitter @FranAiraghi

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