Sterling exchange rate consequences
Thread poster: Emma Gledhill
Emma Gledhill
Local time: 04:00
German to English
+ ...
Jan 19, 2009

With the value of the pound having dropped by in the region of 40% in a year, I would be interested to know whether anyone is seeing a trend for UK agencies to cut back on using non-UK based translators pricing in EUR or whether non-UK based translators pricing in GBP (specifically European based) are thinking more than twice about accepting work from UK agencies? Thankfully I'm pretty busy at my usual EUR and CHF rates but to all intents and purposes I can't afford to work with the UK at the moment (or at least it would make no financial sense at all unless I'm desperate) and I'm sure I can't be alone. It may be an obvious question but I do find myself wondering if the exchange rate is having the effect of splitting a "European" market into a "UK market" and a "mainland market"

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 03:00
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
No interest in new business Jan 19, 2009

Emma Gledhill wrote:
With the value of the pound having dropped by in the region of 40% in a year, I would be interested to know whether anyone is seeing a trend for UK agencies to cut back on using non-UK based translators pricing in EUR or whether non-UK based translators pricing in GBP (specifically European based) are thinking more than twice about accepting work from UK agencies?


This is basically a re-run of what happened with the US dollar for me.

When the dollar dropped so far against the euro, I simply lost interest in doing business with US customers. I discovered to my surprise after several years of turning down projects from one NY-based agency that they had been prepared to pay my euro rates all along, but I simply didn't want to go through the routine in most cases of watching these other companies embarrass themselves over pricing issues. Seeing that someone is unable or unwilling to afford quality is sort of like watching the plumber's backside and noticing that his underwear doesn't cover the essentials - no thanks.

Now formerly profitable business relationships with British clients will be reduced to charity in a sense. I'm notoriously ruthless about raising prices where I see the need to do so, but while I may seek some adjustment here, I don't expect someone to swallow a 50% increase over what was already (in good times) a fair rate. I price in local currency for my non-Continental customers as a matter of courtesy to make planning easier for them. Sometimes this hurts me (like now); sometimes it goes the other way, though that hasn't happened for years.

I think what I'll do is hope that the existing British clientele doesn't need a lot of work but support them still where I can. It isn't worth it from a short-range economic perspective, but we are facing long-range challenges, and too much short-term thinking does nobody any good. However, as big a fan of international diversification as I am, I will not be chasing new business in the UK. (Since I'm American I don't usually do that anyway, but sometimes customers there need US English.)


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:00
Member
English to French
Where do you get those metaphors? Jan 20, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:
...Seeing that someone is unable or unwilling to afford quality is sort of like watching the plumber's backside and noticing that his underwear doesn't cover the essentials - no thanks.

Embarrassingly nice one, thanks.

Back to the topic, apart from ongoing jobs such as periodic publications, I do have less work from my UK agency customers, either because they choose translators who charge in GBP and live there, or they have less work. I am not sure, but those agencies may have to diversify their sources to remain competitive on their domestic markets.
I have also very little coming from the US and Canada agency customers.
I rarely invoice in any other currency than EUR, so I don't feel that my income decreased because of exchange issues. Rather, my income was affected in 2008 by a general decrease of my own busy-ness.
Last time I charged in USD was Jan 2008, but the rate I applied was simply the USD equivalent of my EUR rate.
Fortunately, my long-standing Eurozone customers are keeping me busy.

On a optimistic note, it is a good time to fill UK savings accounts with cheap pounds so that hopefully in a few years' time, I will have earned more than my EUR savings accounts or life insurances.

Yes we can,
Philippe

PS: EDIT to clarify following Gillians' note about UK accounts: for people with the EUR as their reference currency, if/when the GBP gets back to its previous rate against the EUR, the GBP will be worth more euros. This is what I was aiming at, not the interest rate. Now that the GBP is cheap against the euro, I sometimes transfer EUR to my UK account, and maybe I will make a higher profit on the exchange rate in a few years' time, compared to what I would have earned as interests rates on euro accounts. If not, I will spend those GBPs anyway.

[Edited at 2009-01-20 13:13 GMT]


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:00
Member (2004)
German to English
I don't recommend a UK savings account Jan 20, 2009

because the interest you will get is peanuts. With the Bank of England base rate at 1.5% under the mattress is looking more attractive.

As for work, I invoice most of my work in EUR, only working for UK agencies very occasionally. I accepted the last job from them but told then we'll have to talk prices. E.g. if the decision is a simple one because I am busy I would take the EUR job over theirs unless they were willing to pay the EUR price. The situation hasn't occurred yet but it might.
Gillian


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