An outlook on the Finnish translation market
Thread poster: Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 30, 2016

Dear colleagues and nevertheless friends,

For almost two decades, I have been actively serving the Finnish translation market with translations in my language pairs, and have worked for many major agencies in Finland.

Over the last years, and especially with the heavy cuts on translations for the public sector, Finnish agencies started a fierce competition, as no agency likes to disappear from the market, of course. As a consequence, I have ceased to work for a main Nordic agency because of their unsustainable rates lately.

In the case of my other main agency customer in Finland, I have tried to be cooperative and help them sail these troubled waters by lowering my rates to levels around 60% of my original rate with them in certain accounts, but they still regularly ask whether I could work for less in other projects or higher-volume accounts. Rate increases have been out of the question for over a decade.

To me, it looks like actors in the Finnish translation market are not succeeding in competing on (i.e. selling) quality and range of services, and that the Finnish market risks turning into a commoditised, low-quality, low-service market competing on rate only, which does not benefit anybody, not even end customers.

If you work for/in the Finnish translation market, what is your outlook on the Finnish translation market? Do you think medium-to-large Finnish agencies will be capable of coping flexibly with the needs of the new technology market and its myriad technology startups, after the collapse of the big names?

I look forward to your insights!

Best,
Tomás


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member
English to French
Nordic experience Sep 30, 2016

Sorry to hear that.
I've also noticed some changes up North.
A Nordic agency seems to have recently assigned a major account to another translator, and I now get a trickle of the more "difficult" things from this account. However, nobody's ever informed me that my rates were an issue, and I didn't raise them.

As I had worked on that end customer for several years with the agency sending around 100k/year, I can't think of anything else than cost control, with people perhaps thinking that translation memories are now sufficiently all-encompassing. I find it a waste to ditch a whole experience acquired over a long period of time on a variety of products, but there we go.
I'll have to have the nerve to enquire with a few PMs one day.

Anyway, I don't like the new translation style, but my opinion is obviously biased. It's definitely more difficult to sell our service now than it was 15 years ago.

All the best,
Philippe


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, it is worth asking Sep 30, 2016

Philippe Etienne wrote:
I'll have to have the nerve to enquire with a few PMs one day.

I think you absolutely should. I think Nordic people are quite frank when it comes to discussing these matters, and I am sure they will inform you straight away of why they changed ["were forced by the circumstances to change"] to another vendor -- if they did, as you suspect --. I suspect it is simply a matter of rate, as a result of the crunch in the translation market up there.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 07:00
English to Croatian
+ ...
Of course. Sep 30, 2016

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

In the case of my other main agency customer in Finland, I have tried to be cooperative and help them sail these troubled waters by lowering my rates to levels around 60% of my original rate with them in certain accounts, but they still regularly ask whether I could work for less in other projects or higher-volume accounts.


Once you agree to lower your rate, it is typical that you would be asked, at one point or another, to lower it even further. To me it is not surprising, that's why I do not take that first step, ie. do not agree to lower my rate even once. When you erase that rate boundary, you can say bye to any respect.

If the situation in the market is such that no rate is acceptable any more, perhaps it's time to look for another job.

I am not familiar with the Finnish market per se, what I said above are just general observations applicable to any market.


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Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 08:00
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Quite surprised Sep 30, 2016

I don`t have such a long and voluminous experience of cooperation with Nordic agencies, but still, I consider them to be a very positive example in terms of both rates and payment terms, incomparable to certain "warmer" countries of Europe.

I am quite surprised.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
And they are! Sep 30, 2016

Vadim Kadyrov wrote:
I don`t have such a long and voluminous experience of cooperation with Nordic agencies, but still, I consider them to be a very positive example in terms of both rates and payment terms, incomparable to certain "warmer" countries of Europe.

Do not take me wrong. Indeed the relationship with Nordic agencies is a pleasant one, and rates have been historically quite alright. That is why I find it troublesome to think that rates and conditions could be worsening in the area.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes... Sep 30, 2016

Lingua 5B wrote:
Once you agree to lower your rate, it is typical that you would be asked, at one point or another, to lower it even further.

You are so right that it hurts! Well, I have to say in my favour that I felt it was kind of my duty to try to help, out of loyalty towards one of my oldest customers.


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David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
pragmatism Sep 30, 2016

They are quite pragmatic people. Perhaps
they realized the rates they offered were too
high compared to the rates spanish agencies offer
for the same pairs. But it's true that de finnish economy
is not what is used to be (e.g. Nokia)

[Modifié le 2016-09-30 15:23 GMT]

[Modifié le 2016-09-30 17:38 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What agencies would Finnish start-ups turn to for their translations? Dec 9, 2016

Today I was compelled to accept a 20% cut in my rate in a certain project for one of my large Finnish customers. I say compelled because it is recurring work that I love to do and would regret to see it go to cheap providers (and eventually see poor results).

I am still interested in hearing from other colleagues about their outlook of the Finnish market, especially in the wake of the new technology start-ups. Do you think these start-ups would hire larger translation agencies with bigger overheads, or rather turn to smaller, more flexible agencies that, in turn, are capable of offering better rates to us translators?


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
A Nordic thing Dec 9, 2016

I think this is happening all over the Nordic region, with the big agencies quoting stupidly low rates to win contracts, and rates in general moving more in line with the rest of Europe.

I know what you mean about "compelled" but I have found that holding firm works out. The two big agencies I used to do a lot of work for now use me only for specific end-customers who are willing to pay for quality, but I get a good price for this work (and I don't have to use CAT) so the agencies can be much more flexible than they let on...

But I'm sure there are still niche agencies out there that supply quality-conscious customers and pay decent rates. You just have to sniff them out.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Absolutely Dec 9, 2016

Chris S wrote:
But I'm sure there are still niche agencies out there that supply quality-conscious customers and pay decent rates. You just have to sniff them out.

Yes, I am confident that there are medium-sized agencies out there who could be interesting in terms of rate. These months I will not have the time because of academic endeavours, but from January onwards I intend to explore the Finnish market again from the perspective of rates and not of securing high volumes of work.


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An outlook on the Finnish translation market

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