Rules of the Trade

Regulations were made to be translated

Christophe Djaouani

Christophe Djaouani joined SDL in 2018 with the acquisition of Donnelley Language Solutions. He successfully led the integration of the regulated industries team, providing solutions to the financial, legal, life sciences and investor relations markets.

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elcome to this first edition of “Rules of the Trade.” I’m very excited to have the opportunity to share insights into the challenges facing professionals managing multilingual communications in highly regulated industries. In this series I will share with you what I’ve learned in my 21 years working alongside language services and tech customers in the financial, legal, IR, CRO, and pharmaceutical sectors.

But for this first edition I’d like to start by discussing the key ingredients to a successful partnership. It all begins with listening to customers. We hear loud and clear what’s keeping clients awake at night and work with them to deliver solutions. Firstly, by retaining them as customers, and then by focusing on developing our relationship with them, both across their internal departments and across our regions. Despite many outside factors — for example, the politics surrounding the US presidential election and COVID-19 — a strong partnership can weather the storm and adjust to the new conditions.

Good providers support customers by tracking regulatory changes, like we’re doing right now with the LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) transition, which is perhaps the biggest regulatory update in financial services for a decade. LIBOR has been the benchmark for setting the cost of borrowing over the past 50 years, but it’ll soon be replaced by more up-to-date benchmark mechanisms. We’re working with law firms and financial institutions to get their multilingual content ready around that. We are environmental, social and governance reporting experts too, which is even more relevant since the advent of COVID-19. We’re also targeting business related to the EU’s medical device sector. Finally, we’re seeing IPO business more regularly again as resilient businesses show confidence in their offerings by floating stock on global stock markets.
Customers value expertise and efforts to align with them — efforts to understand their language, their terminology and their culture. They appreciate commitment to service excellence, quality, consistency, and responsiveness. Generally, they welcome suggestions for process improvement around technology and subject knowledge. Most of all, they are seeking to make the adoption of new regulations more routine — there is no end to regulatory momentum, especially for companies working in multiple markets internationally, so being able to absorb regulatory changes and updates as they happen enables a “business as usual” approach to compliance that can be a real source of competitive advantage.

Customers have made it clear this year that security, price and speed-to-market are priorities, due to the current environment which has needed an agile, creative and innovative response — all while maintaining the levels of service that customers expect.

2020 has been a year without precedent, and it has brought unique challenges for buyers of languages services and technology in all the regulated industries. In the next column, I’ll be talking about communications for the clinical research organization sector. This is a seriously hot topic right now as we’re on the brink of a COVID-19 vaccine coming out. In the meantime, I wish you an excellent start to 2021. Let’s hope it brings us more cheer and fewer curveballs than 2020!