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Inside View: eFinancialCareers

An internet success story that wasn't founded by 20-something coders! We speak to the founder of eFinancialCareers.com

Anyone who's tried to break into finance over the last ten years knows eFinancialCareers.com, the website that seemingly appeared from nowhere to become an essential stop for job ads, news, industry intelligence, and cheeky commentary on the world of finance industry recruiting.

eFinancialCareers.com, which started in 2000, currently boasts a monthly global audience of over one million finance professionals, and operates in 19 markets.

In 2006 it was bought by US online recruitment specialist Dice Holdings, Inc for £50 million

We caught up with John Benson, one of the founders of eFinancialCareers.com and now a Director at Dice Holdings, to find out how the website rose from the ashes of a bankrupt print newspaper and broke into the tough markets of online media and finance industry recruiting.

In the late 90s Benson was part of the management team that bought into Financial News, a London-based weekly newspaper for investment banking and asset management professionals that was popular with readers but losing £50,000 a week.

The start-up team of 20 people, quickly realised that the future of the business lay in online publishing. In 2000, they launched two internet products: eFinancialNews, a news site, and eFinancialCareers, a jobs site. It was a new industry for most of them - Benson began working with a team of web developers for the first time and had to quickly familiarise himself with programing languages and web platforms. 

Benson and his team recognised the opportunity for eFinancialCareers to be a global brand, serving a global industry: "A fund manager in Hong Kong and a fund manager in New York will both access information through a Reuters or Bloomberg terminal, they will both work with the same global firms, like Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch."

But the big challenge was to reach these busy finance industry individuals. From the outset, eFinancialCareers had a clear marketing strategy to "establish an internet presence in key financial markets" says Benson. 

One of the elements of this strategy was to hire a team of sharp journalists who would report on happenings in the finance job market in real time, providing critical inside information that job applicants couldn’t miss out on. Here are a couple of recent headlines, to give you a flavour of eFinancialCareers’ buzzing editorial:

The sorry tale of the senior UBS equities banker and the orange Ferrari

Six reasons why you might leave UBS’s thriving equities business

The editorial was a hit with users, and quickly created opportunities for content partnerships with other publishers and for additional products such as sector guides. 

The highly skilled user base attracted advertising deals with top firms across the global financial services industry. eFinancialCareers serves customers in wholesale financial markets, investment banking, fund management, asset management and ancillary financial services such as insurance and auditing.

From 2000 to 2003, the entire operation was run from the London office. From this base they launched sites in France, Germany (2005), Hong Kong (2005/6) and Singapore (2005/6), with multilingual sales and marketing teams working across time zones.

 eFinancialCareers opened its first international office in New York in 2003, at the start of a period of rapid growth. It was during this period that the site became an essential stop not only for professionals in the finance industry, but bright young hopefuls at top universities who were desperate to break into the industry. eFinancialCareers provided a lot of the inside information that was previously nearly impossible to get if you didn’t have connections.

The strategy paid off and in 2006, eFinancialCareers was bought by Dice Holdings, Inc, a US-firm that specialises in innovative careers websites that blend jobs and content for IT, engineering and other highly-skilled professionals. Benson has now graduated from start-up CEO to member of the senior management team of a publicly listed company.

eFinancialCareers continues to grow, with offices in the US, the UK, Singapore, Sydney, Hong Kong, Dubai and most recently Shanghai. The Chinese site is currently in English, and aimed at Chinese and Western professionals outside China who want to move into the country

Its products continue to evolve with technology, and Benson points out that it is no longer a website business, but a digital platform that can be accessed through computers, tablets, phones and other devices.

Benson’s advice to MBAs who want to get into the tech or online media industries is to keep up with the news and community sites that cover the digital industry and ideally to be physically located in one of the growing number of dynamic centres of digital innovation, which include California, Austin, Texas, New York, London and Singapore: “Somewhere where there are fast moving teams and organisations… if you are working remotely you won’t get the opportunities,” he says.

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