Olivier Debeugny, CEO at Lingua Custodia tells us about the use of artificial intelligence in financial translations.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Olivier Debeugny: Luckily, we are all fine. Our teams managed to stay safe during the pandemic. We do all we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones daily.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Lingua Custodia.
Olivier Debeugny: I have a long career in the financial industry in Europe. I first worked at JP Morgan in France, Germany and the UK and then I joined AXA Investment Managers in Paris, with global responsibilities. In 2011, I founded Lingua Custodia to solve the translation problems I experienced while working for the financial industry. Thanks to Machine Learning, our Verto solution enables financial institutions to translate faster and better while significantly reducing their costs. Lingua Custodia is expanding rapidly internationally. We now have offices in France and Luxembourg and serve clients in Europe, the Americas and Asia.
How does Lingua Custodia innovate?
Olivier Debeugny: Lingua Custodia is the only machine translation company that was founded by finance professionals to specifically address the translation issues of the financial industry.
Our very large data uniquely focused on the financial domain, and our expertise in the most recent AI techniques including Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing, allows us to propose a seamless solution for financial institutions to reduce resources and time dedicated to technical translation.
Our R&D Lab team is developing as well other Natural Language Processing applications for the financial domain. Recently, the Lab has developed a prototype. This prototype helps compare two documents’ vocabulary in terms of Economic, Environmental and Social criteria. It quantifies the occurrences of vocabulary associated with these three axes (Economic, Environment and Social) and sums it up in a graph, for easier comparison.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Olivier Debeugny: Thanks to the digital nature of our offering, we were able to continue to deliver our machine translation services without interruption during the pandemic. We played our part by giving free access to our solution to help financial institutions deal with urgent communications in the first phase of the crisis. We ultimately turned them into new clients, and we can proudly announce a 40% increase in our turnover in 2020.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Olivier Debeugny: On the contrary, we hired people in 2020 including three PhDs in Machine Learning. Lessons learned: how to welcome people in lockdown and make them feel part of a team they have never met! We reinforced digitally what we would have done on-site: warm welcome on internal chat tool, 121 video meetings to guide them through the organisation, virtual coffee rooms opened twice a day and weekly video staff meetings.
Plus, we were able to keep hiring interns from all over the world (remotely). At Lingua Custodia, we believe it is crucial to support students in these difficult times. And it is always rewarding to be in touch with bright young minds!
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Olivier Debeugny: Being digital and flexible was already in our DNA since most of our clients are abroad. The pandemic and the resulting social distancing have emphasised the use of video communication tools. Our Teams (Product Specialists, Sales etc.) use these tools every day to answer all our clients’ needs.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Olivier Debeugny: Yes, we did, and it was indeed helpful, especially to stay confident in the future at the very beginning of the crisis, when it was hard – to say the least – to predict how and when we will be able to run business again. At the end of the day, we are proud to say that we grew our figures thanks to business development efforts far more than administrative support.
Your final thoughts?
Olivier Debeugny: It has been a rough period, which is not yet over. However, the crisis has allowed the creation of new alliances within fintech companies. These new alliances offer the opportunity to innovate, pool skills and better serve the industry. We are currently in discussions with some partners to integrate Machine Translation into the automated production process of funds’ regulatory documentation. Combining these two solutions will save tremendous time and money for asset managers who distribute cross-borders funds. In the future, we hope to keep fostering opportunities for smart innovation and partnerships in the financial ecosystem.