MoneySavingExpert.com's founder Martin Lewis is to move from Editor-in-Chief to Executive Chairman on 22 September and a new Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director will be appointed.
Martin founded the site in 2003 for £100, and it speedily grew to be the UK's largest consumer site. It now has over 15 million users a month, 11 million receiving the weekly Martin's Money Tips email, and is comfortably ranked in the UK's top 100 websites.
In September 2012, the site joined the MoneySupermarket Group and Martin agreed to stay on as full time Editor-in-Chief, with total control over all of its content and operations.
That agreement ends this coming September, when Martin and the site could have chosen to part ways. Neither wants to do that. So today a new structure is being announced.
From September Martin will move to the part time role of Executive Chairman – with a job to oversee the site's strategy, development, ethics, editorial content and campaigning.
A new full-time Editor-in-Chief will be recruited. He or she will report directly to Martin, and take over day-to-day responsibility for the site's content. The Editor-in-Chief will work alongside Andy Hancock our current Chief Operating Office, who will take the newly created role as Managing Director.
However in practice as the recruitment process could take time, Martin will also remain as full time Interim Editor-in-Chief until the appointment is made and the new person is in a position to take over.
Martin Lewis says: "I'm very excited about this next step for both me and MoneySavingExpert.com. I'm incredibly proud of my baby and like any parent I need to take a few deep breaths now it’s growing up.
"This site has become part of people's daily lives, far bigger than the man who founded it – and one of my original aims of selling it was to secure its long term future, with or without me, to help people to keep saving money. Yet I’m still enjoying myself, and continue to have fire in my belly about what the site does, so I'm staying.
"However, there is now a fantastic, dedicated team of nearly 100 full time staff here at MoneySavingExpert, some of whom have lived and breathed everything we do for over 10 years, and all who absolutely believe in the ethics of the site.
"So I'm very confident in their abilities to keep the site champing at corporate heels, cutting bills and fighting people's corner – even without me looking over their shoulders every day (that won't be an easy habit for me to break).
"I see this, if you forgive me stretching the analogy, as a shift from being the site's daddy to its uncle. I get to come in, present ideas, check everything is being done right, fizz things up, but then leave it to others to do the hard work and make it all happen.
"I hope that'll leave me time to explore some of my other passions – as well as keeping up my TV, campaigning and other journalism work – I'm incredibly fortunate to have a £15 million charity fund.
"With it, I’ve always said I wanted to set up a mental health and debt policy institute, and further push financial education. Once I've more time that’s exactly what I will be doing, as well as perhaps a few other fun roles. I'd also like to spend a little more time with Mrs and baby MSE too."
Here we put key quick questions to Martin:
Q. Will the change affect the way the site operates?
Martin's A: "No, not at all, in fact I hope it'll improve it. This is a personnel change, not a change of agenda.
"The legally-binding editorial code will remain firmly in place. It guarantees the site's content is strictly independent and always puts the consumer interest first, regardless of financial considerations.
"Adding the extra resource of a new full time Editor-in-Chief will actually allow the site to do more, not less and I hope users will see the benefit."
Q. How part time is part time?
Martin’s A. "My role is as 'Executive’ Chairman not 'non-executive’ which means, once I fully relinquish the reins of Editor-in-Chief, I’m likely to be working on the site at least a couple of days a week rather than a couple a month – this isn't a sinecure.
"I’ll still be very much plugged in, but to the big picture not the minutia. Also I'm keeping my office here at MSE Towers, even for my other work and charity ventures, so I'll be present in the office more days than that, in case I'm needed."
Q. How long will it take to recruit the new Editor-in-Chief?
Martin's A. "It could take a good while, we need to get the right candidate, but I'm hoping they'll be up and running, allowing me to fully step back by the end of March 2016 at the very latest."
Q. Will the new Editor-in-Chief's role be the same as yours was?
Martin's A. "Not quite. The Editor-in-Chief will be in charge of all the content of the site. Yet my role in charge of operations will be taken up by the new Managing Director. The two will work in concert to run the site day-to-day."
Q. What type of person will the new Editor-in-Chief be?
Martin's A. "We're open to that, but this is a very big role at the UK's biggest consumer site. It's likely to be either a senior and very experienced journalist or a senior and very experienced campaigner with a passion for ensuring consumers get their due.
"Yet it doesn’t have to be a public face or a big gob like me – this is a job all about someone with the skills to make sure this website's content is the best it can be."
Q. What will your role be with MoneySuperMarket.com and Travelsupermarket.com?
Martin’s A: "I don't have one. My focus, as it has always been, is solely on the MoneySavingExpert.com website and my role as Chairman is only for MSE. The group has a Chairman too - and that is an entirely separate role."
Q. What will happen to the Martin's Money Tips email?
Martin’s A. "For almost 13 years, every Tuesday (bar very rare weeks), from about 8am until 11pm I've written and led the weekly email – it's been a joy.
"But my aim is to finally let go of that rigid calendar. Once the new Editor-in-Chief is fully up and running, I will hand over the reins, so he/she can take charge – though I will of course oversee its general direction.
"As I’ve always operated a policy that, if it says I wrote it, I should actually have written it, we will therefore be renaming the weekly email at that point to something like MSE's Money Tips."
Q. Will Martin's picture continue to be on the masthead?
Martin's A. "I think the site is now strong enough in its own right that it doesn't need it – and should move away from me to an extent.
"Plus I think it's fair whoever is in charge of the content gets credit too (though there are many other unsung heroes). So we hope to redesign the masthead in time, so that my picture isn't on it, but it will still have both my name as Chairman and the name of the new Editor-in-Chief."
Q. Will you still be appearing on the TV and radio?
Martin's A. "I hope so. This is a change to my role on the website, it doesn’t affect my TV work. It looks likely that ITV want to commission the fifth series of The Martin Lewis Money Show and I intend to keep up much of my other work too.
"In fact, this may allow me to spend a bit more time on it rather than spreading myself too thin."