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Growing Revenue: Financial Research Localization



By Thomas Edwards

            Like many regulated industries, the financial industry is global. It requires a global approach to selling and producing localization. The special emphasis of this article is on opportunities in the U.S. Market – however, many other opportunities exist throughout the world for a savvy and eager translation company, or even an individual financial translator.

            As the saying “follow the money” goes, I will start with the crown jewel of financial services localization – namely localization of research content for investment banks (or iBanks). There are many other types of financial organizations or types of projects – many of which are traditional and do not deviate tremendously from any other standard localization project.

            Equities research for iBanks requires a special operational execution model – one that is based on speed and quality. Financial institutions are generally willing to pay significant premiums to be able to release their translated content first, with the highest-quality possible – ahead of their competitors. A nimble and customer focused translation company – or translator – can reap the benefits of helping iBanks be first to market.

            Localization for iBanks is one of the areas that has the most potential for growth in profit and solid revenue in the coming years for translators. The global political picture is changing by the minute, and financial investors are hungry for information and research to help guide their investment strategies in these uncertain times.

            These translation projects tend to be more complex. The bulk of the investment banking localization needs reside within the Research department of the iBanks – typically for Equities Research (Stocks) and Fixed Income (Bonds), research on individual companies, markets or industries.  Other types of localization may be required, such as Account Statements or Disclosure for significant Private Equity investors.

            Time is critical for research localization. Research departments of iBanks is the source of the bulk of the localization spend. Clients can also be independent research firms not tied to any specific iBank. Cycles of high-demand for fast localization tend to match the global Earnings Seasons every quarter (US first, Europe next and then Asia, etc.).

            During earnings seasons, the global Research departments of iBanks or Research Companies have hundreds of short reports issued (about 200 to 500 target words on average) to localize with turnaround times that are extremely short, many times within 1 or 2 hours or even less. The Chinese and Japanese earnings seasons produce thousands of reports to localize into US English (the world standard in the financial world).

            Equities Research/Stock guidance (“Buy, Sell, Hold”):  These come in sporadically between earnings seasons and are usually fairly short reports of about 300 to 500 target words each. These reports often contain tables and charts and require expert localization resources.

            Company reports (10(k) reports, etc.), sales proposals, information about companies or markets, newsletters about a vertical (automotive, pharmaceuticals, aeronautics, tourism, etc.) or regional markets (Europe, Italy, Campania, etc.) – are often less time-critical and are typically requested between Earnings Season peaks. These are usually in Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint and sometimes in Microsoft Excel. The documents range in size from 1,000 to 50,000 target words. Some can be much larger. The language direction is often language into U.S. English. Other language combinations can exist, especially in Europe and in the Middle East.

            Becoming a localization supplier for a financial institution takes time and effort. Many large Global or iBanks require several months to several years to establish a large-scale global Master Services Agreement (M.S.A.). Having done work in the past with a financial firm enables faster penetration and revenue generation. It also makes it easier for acquiring internal referrals and establishing contacts with individual buyers or procurement.  A reference from a similar firm or simply listing a credible competitor of the iBank helps tremendously.

            Most iBanks require vetted resources working on their projects – and this includes the account management, project management and even the translation teams. This vetting of the team gives them a greater comfort level that their confidential information is in good hands. Several vetting companies perform this task (it takes usually 2 weeks and costs an average of US$500 per staff member or linguist).

Agile methodologies are required for Financial Research in order to be able to process and produce hundreds localization requests per week. If you crack that nut and are able to provide a good translation service for iBanks, you will reap benefits and grow your revenue and profit for years to come.

About the author:

Thomas Edwards manages the North American Sales consulting practice at ANZU GLOBAL called U.S. Launchpad. He helps Translation and Interpretation companies penetrate and radiate in the United States and Canada by establishing a strong cost-efficient sales foothold in this rewarding market. Thomas has held senior positions in both operations and sales over the past 20 years with start-ups and large localization companies in the U.S. and Europe.