Financial & Legal Translations – With Ann-Charlotte Storer

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Welcome to the fourth episode of The Translate By Humans Podcast: For Humans, By Humans. In this episode, we talk to our expert and experienced translator – Ann-Charlotte Storer and gain some wisdom about specialising in legal and financial translations.

Hello everyone. Welcome to the translate by humans podcast, where I talk to colleagues, linguists and experts about their lives, cultural experiences and professions. I am Shifa Miyaji, a content writer and social media enthusiast. And I am going to take you on a journey through some amusing and inspiring personal stories.

In the last episode, we talked to David Crebassa, a French translator living in the Philippines, and we had a great time discussing his exciting experiences and a lot more. If you missed that episode, do check it out on our channel.

Today, we have a special guest on our podcast, Ann-Charlotte Storer.

Ann is a highly experienced Swedish Translator with expertise in the legal and financial sectors. It is a well-known fact that these industries require a working knowledge of jargon, terminology and procedures that leave no scope for errors or inaccuracy.

Hence, we’ve invited Ann to share her insights into financial and legal translations with us today.

Thank you for joining us, Ann. It’s a pleasure to have you on our podcast today.

Hello, thank you for inviting me. I’m very happy to be here.

Thank you so much, Ann. We’re so excited to get to know you better personally, as well as professionally. So, why don’t you tell us something about yourself to get started?

Well, I’m from Sweden. I grew up in the very south of Sweden in an area close to the Baltic Sea and Denmark on the other. Growing up, my parents loved to travel to different European countries. And that installed in me a sense of adventure and wanting to see new places and meet new people.

I speak English and Swedish. I also speak some French, and I’m specialised in financial translation. I studied management, business and political science at university. And later in my career, my love for languages took over, and I retrained to become a translator, which is my current profession.

So, what or who inspired your love for languages?

My parents loved speaking foreign languages. They knew French, German, Italian, and Latin. And growing up in Sweden, you pretty early on understand that Swedish is lovely, but it’s a small language.
So to get understood outside of Sweden, you need to learn at least English. And in school, you start learning English already at the age of seven, and also, you have to learn other foreign languages later on in school.

Swedish TV often shows foreign series and movies. And an interesting fact is that overdubbing is hardly ever done. So when you grow up, you hear all these foreign languages, and you read the subtitles under, and I think that contributes to many Swedish children’s love of learning foreign languages.

Yes, that’s true. So subtitles, in fact, prove to be a great tool when learning a foreign language. So tell us a bit more about your professional experiences.

When I initially studied business and political science at Lund University in Sweden, I also wanted some experience from studying abroad. I spent a year in the Netherlands.
I didn’t know Dutch at all before I moved there. And I realised that with speaking Swedish and my knowledge of English, I couldn’t speak or understand anything, but I could read a newspaper. So that was very interesting.

After graduation, I worked in various roles in investment banking and finance, both in Sweden and Luxembourg. When I moved to The US, I wanted to venture into a new profession, and my love for languages led me on the path to a degree in translation and linguistics.

We noticed that you have many certifications and are a member of many prestigious translators’ associations. Please give our listeners and me a brief about them.

Of course, I’m a member of the American Translators Association, also called ATA, and from this organisation, I’m also certified for translation from English into Swedish.

And the local chapter of the ATA is the Delaware Valley Translators Association. And there, I’m very active, and I hold board positions as a Secretary and an ATA Exam Chair. And these two organisations provide me with contacts and a constant source of learning and meeting new people in the language industry.

But I’m also a member of the Swedish Association of Professional Translators. And that’s important to me because it helps me strengthen my connection to the Swedish language and my native – Sweden. Of course, I can’t go to the events very often with the Swedish Association, but these days there are also Zoom meetings.

Networking is a really important part of the language industry. That’s something that we all can agree on.

We’d like to know more about the Swedish culture from you. What do you find the most interesting about it?

Well, something that’s well, I guess, both interesting, but also funny is that Swedes are very, very interested in the weather. As you may know, the weather is often cold, rainy, and grey in Sweden, but everybody always wants it to be sunny.

So when you meet somebody, it doesn’t matter what level – it could be professional, it could be private – people always greet each other with, “Hello. How are you?”, and then immediately, “and what about the weather today?” or “What’s the weather like, where you are?” is a question I often get, because I’m not in Sweden.

So the weather seems to be the common thing that binds people together. And it’s also the common enemy. Everybody always wants more Sun, but you never get the Sun. So that’s, that’s very funny. 

So, well, in India, it’s just the opposite. In most regions, it is always so hot that every conversation here starts with people complaining about the heat and not wanting more of the Sun. So it’s just the opposite here 🙂

Is there any other country or culture that fascinates you enough to visit that particular place or learn their language?

When I was in school, I learnt French. I studied English, but then I also studied French, and I always loved the French language. I’m not a good singer at all, but to me, French almost sounds like singing. I have visited the country quite a few times. And when I lived in Luxembourg, I also spoke French on a daily basis. And I would really like to go back to the picturesque countryside and to Paris and to improve my French.

Maybe one day, I could also use French in my translation. I’m quite far away from that yet. But yes, I have to admit France is a dream destination for me still.

Yes, French culture is, no doubt, one of the most beautiful cultures.

So, in terms of the Swedish financial and legal sector, how would you say it’s different from the rest of the world?

Um, I think that Sweden being part of the EU is very important. Well, because Sweden is, is a small country with a quite small and open economy. So whatever happens to the EU in terms of politics, financial development, legal development also affects Sweden, and it is the same for global events.

So when I work with Swedish translation in these fields, it is important for me to follow what happens globally and what happens in the EU.

That makes sense. So, talking about the financial sector, now that we are talking about the financial sector, what particular skills does one need to become an excellent financial translator, according to you?
And how important is it to keep yourself up to date with the trends and the updates in the financial industry?

Well, you're right. The financial field is very specialised. The best way to be prepared is to have personal experience as a professional in the field or even take courses and classes about the financial area. It's really important to stay updated on what's happening and the new developments, and there is always something new coming in and new financial instruments. For example, we have Cryptocurrency, and there's so much development going on all the time in these fields. So it's important to read. And listen to the news, maybe join a professional organisation for financial professionals, in both the source and the target language, I think, because most of the terminology comes in English first and not all of it is translated into the target language. In the financial field, much of the terminology stays in English, and it's important to be updated on the current new words and terms and jargon.

- Ann-Charlotte Storer

Definitely, that’s true. Apart from the financial industry, when we talk about the legal industry now, what are the things that need extra focus while translating for the legal industry?

The legal industry is in some ways similar to finance and in some ways different. I always think of the legal industry as being very large because it covers so many different areas. There is anything from dispute resolution, country-specific regulation, insurance, corporate legal documents, family law, medical malpractice, and it’s impossible to know all of these areas within the legal translation.

So I think it’s important to find a field either by your previous profession or something that you’re interested in, that you have studied, that you can actually be specialised in.

For me, I focus on corporate legal translation and not, for example, family law, which I don’t have any expertise in at all.

So, can you give a brief about the variety of financial and legal content you’ve worked on?

Yes, of course. I’m happy to. I work a lot with investment management material, and that can be, for example, investment team presentations, large PowerPoint presentations.

It could be fund information, but it can also be employee documentation, banking and payment solutions, and anything to do with the corporate financial material, sometimes, accounting material as well.

Tell us about any memorable project in the legal or financial sector that has been a turning point in your career?

Yes. One very important project for me was a prominent legal case. It was a mix of a financial and legal translation. And at the time, it had quite some press coverage in Sweden. This project was exciting and interesting for me. It was challenging because we received new material to translate every day, which had been presented during the day and which would be used the following day.

And the happenings were followed in press and media. So I felt that our work made a difference. And we could spread out the word to a larger part of the population. And after this job was done, I’m still working with the same lawyers today.

Great. So that’s been a really rewarding experience for you, then?

Yes, for sure.

So, have you ever received any peculiar translation requests from any of your clients?

I mostly talk about my financial and legal translation, but I also have a big passion for soccer. Growing up, I played soccer for many years. It was the sport of choice in the area where I lived. We didn’t have too much choice, in fact, but we all ended up loving soccer.

So I do quite a few soccer translations. And one time, I was asked to translate a one-hour long podcast with two soccer fans that had commented on a premier league game from the previous week in the UK. And this was a very, very unique translation because not only did the speakers make many jokes, but they also used local slang, local jargon, and even soccer terms that I had never heard before.

That must have been a really interesting experience for you. How did you manage to work with the local slang and the jargon that you had no idea about?

Yes. It was both interesting, and it was fun. I had to use the internet a lot to search for the special terminology. I had to look at small posts on chat forums, listen to other podcasts, and just try to get a feel of how these two speakers were communicating.

And after a couple of minutes into the podcast, I had a pretty good idea of what we were looking for. It was almost the complete opposite of a financial translation.

That sounds amazing. So, what advice would you give to a translator who wants to specialise in financial or legal translations?

First of all, I think it's important to ask yourself why you want to do something, for example, financial translations. Maybe you want to branch into financial translation because you have worked in this field before, and then you know it so that you may have an advantage from that perspective. But it could also be that you want to venture into financial translation because you think there is a need, and you want to fill this need and add this service to what you can offer your clients. And then I think it's a very good idea to try to study a bit about the area, but also talk to somebody who already works with this and make sure that this is what you're actually looking for, and that you won't be surprised.

- Ann-Charlotte Storer

And I think after that, taking some sort of education – small, long, how much time you have, and joining a professional organisation, a nonprofit, some online forums, and start following what’s happening on the financial market daily.
It is fun and fascinating. And you feel like you’re a part of something that develops constantly. And you’re part of contributing to spreading information about finance and banking in different languages.

That’s surely some great advice. So how do you feel about the freelance translator lifestyle? Since you have many years of experience working with the corporate, do you miss the hustle-bustle of your corporate lifestyle?

My experience working in the corporate sector was great. I really liked it. I had the benefit of working with good colleagues, and I had some good mentors as well. But now I have to say that I love my freedom and I love being my own boss. So I think there can be positives and negatives to both.

Sometimes as freelancers, we work very long hours, and it’s easy to forget that we have to handle all the aspects of the business, not just the translation, but anything from marketing to invoicing and everything in between.

Yes. That is another side of the story that people generally miss the work that the translator has to do, starting with marketing, finances, management, everything.
So, talking about management and productivity. are there any tools that are essential to you as a translator?

Well, yes, I very often work with CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools. I think it’s efficient, and it helps with terminology consistency and with speed. So, I would recommend anyone going into the translation field to look into this.

It’s not for everyone. I know that if you work with very creative translation, then perhaps a CAT tool is not the right software. But for me, certainly, it’s a big help. I also work with Grammarly and other language tools. It’s a very good tool for spellcheck. And, of course, a regular word spellcheck can sometimes be enough as well, depending on the size of the project.

So, how do you handle tight deadlines or long working hours?

I always try to be clear on my timeline and availability because most of my translation work is quite research-intensive. So it is important for me that I’m able to allocate enough time to create top-quality translations. And often deadlines are a little bit flexible because we all have the same goal: to create high quality, final documents.

But then I have to admit that since I love my work, there is no problem for me to work too much. I guess I’m a bit of a workaholic, but it’s, of course, important to adjust back to more normal working hours after you have had an intense period of work.

True. True. That makes sense. So what do you do when you’re not working?

I like to do yoga and meditation.

It gives me relaxation on a different level, but I also do jogging and some other exercises. I like to cook and spend time with my family. And before the pandemic situation, we loved to travel to Sweden and to other countries and see other places in America.

So, did the pandemic affect your work?

Well, since I already had my office at home, I have to admit that I wasn’t challenged to undergo the same type of adjustments as I know, many other people had to do, who are used to going into an office on a daily basis. In fact, I received more work, and I found myself more efficient when other external activities were put on pause.

But one change was that my entire family studied and or worked from home almost the whole time. So we had to do some upgrades to our internet connections to cover it for everyone.

I guess everyone’s on the same boat in that situation. So, what is something you wish you had known when you started working as a translator?

When I meet a new translator, I always try to encourage them to get into freelancing because one thing that was very positive for me when I started was how helpful everybody is. The global community of translators really try to be there for each other – you can ask questions and ask for advice, and that is something which you don’t find in every profession.

So that sounds absolutely amazing. We’re curious to know the status of the language industry in your country. How do people usually react when you tell them that you’re a translator?

Well, because Swedish is a small language, knowing foreign languages is pretty common in Sweden. However, many people will know English, and not so many will know other languages. So working in the professional field as a linguist is relatively common, and it’s also seen as an important profession.

However, for the past 10-12 years, I’ve lived in America, and I noticed that over here, it’s, of course, common to speak English, but it’s much less common to know other foreign languages. So I would say that being in a language profession is even more unique in the environment where I live now.

So do you think that machine or automated translations can ever replace human translations completely?

That’s such an interesting subject to talk about. I don’t think that machine translation will be able to replace human translation. I think it is a perfect tool. Maybe not a perfect tool. It’s a good tool that can be used if we have a large amount of text to translate and if time is of the essence. But we have to remember that as it stands now, machine translation always has to be edited by a human if we want to reach human quality.

And I think that will always be the case, especially for the more creative material.

Thank you for sharing your plethora of knowledge and experience with us. I am sure the aspiring translators looking to find their niche in the legal and financial sectors will benefit greatly from this podcast.
So before we end this podcast, I have one last question for you, Ann. How has your experience been working with Translate By Humans?

It has been great. We are doing many good projects together, many long projects. And I, especially like the clients that come back and we get to see the development, such as a website or an app, and how the translation keeps evolving.

So I’m very happy with our connection, and I hope it will last for a long time.

We’re very happy to have you with us, and it’s always a pleasure to work with you. Thank you, Ann, for being with us on our podcast today. We absolutely loved interacting with you. It’s been a very insightful session.

Thank you so much for having me.

Thank you, and thank you to our listeners for tuning in. We’ll be back soon with another interesting episode with a new expert from the language industry.
Do subscribe to our podcast so you know when we release our next episode. See you soon.

About The Translate By Humans Podcast

Made by humans, for humans; The Translate By Humans podcast takes you through some inspiring personal stories and cultural experiences of people working in the language industry.

Shifa Miyaji

Shifa Miyaji

Shifa Miyaji is a Content Writer at Translate By Humans. A former student of Mass Media and Corporate Communication, she conducts intensive research for her blogs and articles and keeps tab on all developments in the language industry to curate interesting & trending content for all our social media platforms. Learning about new languages, cultures and cuisines excites her and when she isn't engrossed in the newest fictional hardback, she can be found fantasizing about her next solo trip.
Shifa Miyaji

Shifa Miyaji

Shifa Miyaji is a Content Writer at Translate By Humans. A former student of Mass Media and Corporate Communication, she conducts intensive research for her blogs and articles and keeps tab on all developments in the language industry to curate interesting & trending content for all our social media platforms. Learning about new languages, cultures and cuisines excites her and when she isn't engrossed in the newest fictional hardback, she can be found fantasizing about her next solo trip.
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