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Switching currencies (EUR to GBP)
Thread poster: Lindsay Condit Marshall

Lindsay Condit Marshall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:38
Member (2012)
German to English
Apr 21, 2015

I've been working as a translator for about 2.5 years full time and my rates have been relatively steady. I recently moved to the UK from the US so now that the euro is tanking, I'm taking some serious hits money-wise. Most of my work comes from smaller agencies in Germany and I enjoy fairly friendly and stable working relationships with them. I've never had to ask for a significant increase in rates and am really just looking for some advice in this regard.

It looks like the euro today is almost equal to the dollar, with 1 EUR = 1.07 USD when I checked earlier today. I've been mulling over either raising my rates or telling clients I will simply be billing in GBP and/or pegging my rates to the pound, but now that there is such a disparity between GBP and EUR (1 EUR = 0.72 GBP) I'm worried my clients will absolutely FREAK OUT over that kind of increase.

Have any of you made a similar move? How did you go about it?


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:38
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Comes with the territory Apr 21, 2015

Lindsay Condit Marshall wrote:

I've been working as a translator for about 2.5 years full time and my rates have been relatively steady. I recently moved to the UK from the US so now that the euro is tanking, I'm taking some serious hits money-wise. Most of my work comes from smaller agencies in Germany and I enjoy fairly friendly and stable working relationships with them. I've never had to ask for a significant increase in rates and am really just looking for some advice in this regard.

It looks like the euro today is almost equal to the dollar, with 1 EUR = 1.07 USD when I checked earlier today. I've been mulling over either raising my rates or telling clients I will simply be billing in GBP and/or pegging my rates to the pound, but now that there is such a disparity between GBP and EUR (1 EUR = 0.72 GBP) I'm worried my clients will absolutely FREAK OUT over that kind of increase.

Have any of you made a similar move? How did you go about it?


The Euro/GBP exchange rate has been slightly improving lately and there are signs of growth in the Euro economy that give grounds for optimism. Where you lose money - no matter how carefully you choose your UK bank - is when you exchange your Euro to GBP. Your bank takes a cut before the money gets to you.

This would be a very bad time to ask for an increase in your rates, when bank interest rates across Europe are close to zero.

[Edited at 2015-04-21 11:56 GMT]


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:38
Member (2014)
English to German
I have been struggling with that as well ... Apr 21, 2015

My previous Euro rate just does not work for me anymore.

For one client I left it because they only send little bits once in a while.

For one newer but very regular client who likes to be invoiced in Euros (they tend to pay in Euros whatever I invoice) I agreed to use my Sterling rate and convert it at the exchange rate of the day.

Also, I try not to convert the Euros into Sterling but use them to pay for my holiday.


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:38
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Keep 2 separate accounts Apr 21, 2015

My problem is similar to yours, only I have money that is in US dollars, better than the UK/€ rate but still. I decided to keep 2 different accounts, mainly in PayPal so I pay according to the currency needed. Maybe you can do the same thing with bank accounts, that is the only solution for the time being, as I see it, so you do not lose out.

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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:38
German to English
Asking for a raise Apr 21, 2015

It's always a good time to ask for a raise if you have more work than you want and it's never a bad time if you have more than you need.
But the exchange rate isn't likely to be very relevant (for them, that is - obviously it is very relevant for you), unless you want to use it as a pleasant way to break the news.

What about looking for UK agencies or better yet, if you are translating German>English, Swiss agencies?


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:38
Member (2014)
English to German
Euro Account? Apr 21, 2015

I opened a Euro account with my UK bank, unfortunately I cannot transfer the PayPal balance in Euro into that account. When I tried the bank immediately converted it into Sterling and returned it to my PayPal account.

The Euro account has so far not been very useful although clients could transfer money into it.


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Lindsay Condit Marshall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:38
Member (2012)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your replies! Apr 21, 2015

I think the sensible thing to do is wait and see for now and to follow your advice and look towards more long-term strategies in terms of diversifying my client base and getting involved in relationships with UK (or Swiss) companies.

Michael - I think that's good advice, but it tends to be feast or famine with me. One week I will be up to my eyeballs and the next it will be anywhere from a trickle to what amounts to 9-5 work. I would hate to ask for a raise only for the client to say such a raise would be too expensive for them right now, which I feel would hinder my being able to ask for one later.

Josephine and Gabriele - I will look into a separate euro account. The problem is that since most of my clients pay in euros so I'm afraid all my money will just sit there waiting for the exchange rate to change and I won't have any money to pay the bills! Sigh, complicated accountancy is no fun, but Tom, you're right: it comes with the territory.


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Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:38
Dutch to English
+ ...
normal fluctuations Apr 21, 2015

In such circumstances, you're paying for the dubious privilege of living in the UK. No way will translation agencies subsidise that, unless they themselves are in the UK. These in turn will in any case lose trade to Euroland-based agencies.

When the Euro was launched, it was trading at about 1.10, so 1.07 probably isn't far of its long-term average. I'm afraid you might to have to get used to a lower standard of living, because my experience of raising rates is that it's a no-no!

[Edited at 2015-04-21 18:42 GMT]


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Georgios Zoumpoulidis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:38
English to Greek
+ ...
EUR/GBP Apr 21, 2015

An EUR acct is probably the only way to go, with money staying put till the rate changes in your favour. Having said that, if you think 0.72 is unfavourable, you only have to wait until a GR//IT/SP/IR/POR -exit (or maybe even a BRexit after the UK elections!). It may then very well be the case that 0.50 is reached, or even that there is no EUR to speak of

That may sound a tad far-fetched, and I am only bringing this up to show that just because the range 0.80-0.90 has held for quite some time, it does not mean that it represents some sort of "intrinsic" or "fair" value - it's just FOREX... (if you can remember that far back, EUR/USD was @ 1.17 around 2003, if memory serves, fell to 0.80 - 0.90, then went to par, and kept rising till a bit over 1.50, before coming back down to almost 1.06 recently...)

Just my 0.02


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:38
Chinese to English
Keep your rates in a single currency Apr 22, 2015

My currency strategy is to define my rates (usually in USD, but sometimes in RMB), and then convert on a job-by-job basis for any agency which doesn't pay in that currency. Of course, if your base currency is the euro, and that's the one causing the problems, then this strategy won't help. But you could switch to the GBP now: decide your rate in GBP, then tell your clients they have to pay you at current euro exchange rates.

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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:38
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Not a good idea for clients in Germany Apr 22, 2015

Phil Hand wrote:

My currency strategy is to define my rates (usually in USD, but sometimes in RMB), and then convert on a job-by-job basis for any agency which doesn't pay in that currency. Of course, if your base currency is the euro, and that's the one causing the problems, then this strategy won't help. But you could switch to the GBP now: decide your rate in GBP, then tell your clients they have to pay you at current euro exchange rates.


That might work with a client who REALLY loves you and doesn't want to live without you, but clients in Germany generally won't like that approach. I guess most clients (particularly agencies) would want to know the cost of a supplier without having to look up exchange rates or keep asking on a job-by-job basis, but the Germans are definitely not a culture that cope with that approach well. They like stability, they're used to stability and there are plenty of other translators in the German-English market who aren't changing their rates every time the exchange rate changes.

I predict an approach like that would cause most German agency clients to avoid you unless and until the euro rate suddenly swings into their favour and you end up "punishing" yourself by attaching your rate to the exchange rate.

My number one piece of advice would be to know your market, know what your commodity is selling for in that market, and price your services accordingly. (in this case, know what translation sells for in Germany and price your services within that range) If you feel you're doing that already and your place of residence is screwing you over because of the high cost of living/different currency etc, then a better more long-term aim would be to seek out clients that are not paying euros.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:38
German to English
Greek exit and euro Apr 22, 2015

Why would Greece leaving or being kicked out of the common currency lead to a weakening of the euro? I understand that is a widespread opinion, but it doesn't make any sense. If the EU started breaking up, that would be different, but if a country with massive financial problems leaves the euro, then that would ... strengthen the euro, particularly because it would also prove that a country's leaving the euro (not the common market) is no big deal.

As a freelancer in Germany, I hope that Greece stays with the euro. (I've most likely been suffering from the poster's problem in the opposite direction for years.)


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:38
Member
English to French
Charging my reference currency Apr 22, 2015

Phil Hand wrote:
My currency strategy is to define my rates (usually in USD, but sometimes in RMB), and then convert on a job-by-job basis for any agency which doesn't pay in that currency...

I also proceed like this, because I find it is the most logical way to go: I work and will retire in the Eurozone, so I prefer an income in euros, precisely in order to avoid exchange rate variations. I don't see why I should bear exchange rate risks. When I am asked a quote, I state the equivalent fee in the customer's preferred currency, and if required, I invoice in their local currency at the current rate.
With repeating customers who want a fixed rate in their own currency, I state that I will revise it every 6 months, because I, first and foremost, need as much stability as I can get being self-employed.

My income and buying power are therefore always closely linked to the amount of work I do and not to oil being found in Antartica or a war being triggered on Mars. Nor to speed-trading programs missing a comma in their code. Because I don't sell commodities.

Philippe


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Laura Tridico  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:38
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Case by case Apr 22, 2015

I'm in a similar situation, US citizen who recently moved to London from Belgium. I asked a couple of my non-Euro zone clients to convert my rates from EUR to GBP at (then) current exchange rates, which was fine with them. I'm not asking my Euro zone customers to do that, but I haven't adjusted my rates for a long time, and I'm working on strategy to gradually increase my EUR rates.

It's a balancing act - and also a good argument to constantly market! The stronger the client base, the better positioned you'll be when its time to adjust rates. You'll be able to let go of those customers who can't meet your revised terms.

Laura


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:38
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Grexit Apr 22, 2015

Michael Wetzel wrote:

Why would Greece leaving or being kicked out of the common currency lead to a weakening of the euro? I understand that is a widespread opinion, but it doesn't make any sense. If the EU started breaking up, that would be different, but if a country with massive financial problems leaves the euro, then that would ... strengthen the euro, particularly because it would also prove that a country's leaving the euro (not the common market) is no big deal.

As a freelancer in Germany, I hope that Greece stays with the euro. (I've most likely been suffering from the poster's problem in the opposite direction for years.)


Both Economy Ministers - Yanis Varoufakis (Greece) and Wolfgang Schäuble (Germany) - have said that there is no intention of Greece leaving the Euro. But the press has got hold of this idea and will not let go of it.

[Edited at 2015-04-22 09:46 GMT]


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