Martin Lewis biography

Martin Lewis biography

Martin Lewis OBE, the Money Saving Expert, founded this website in 2003 and is currently its Executive Chair. He's an award-winning campaigning journalist, TV and radio presenter, newspaper columnist, charity founder, author and according to Google, the UK's most searched-for British man.

Born in Manchester in 1972, Martin grew up in Cheshire's Delamere Forest and now lives in London with his wife, BBC Click presenter Lara (aka Mrs MSE), and six-year-old daughter Sapphire (aka mini MSE). If you fancy a bit of colour, read Lucy Kellaway's Financial Times profile of Martin or The Guardian's How Martin Lewis became Britain's most trusted man. Yet if you're the Wikipedia type and want the exhaustive (exhausting) 'who is Martin Lewis?' list of stats and facts, read on…

PS: If, as often happens, there's a factual difference between this and the crowd-sourced Martin Lewis Wikipedia page, it's correct here, not there.

Founder & Chair, MoneySavingExpert.com

Martin set up this site in his living room in 2003 for £100. With a focus on how to cut bills without cutting back, it soon saw explosive growth (see MSE's history).

For over a decade it has been the UK's biggest consumer site, and it now has over 16 million monthly users and more than 13 million signed up to receive the weekly MSE Money Tips email.

In 2016 he moved from Editor-in-Chief to a new role as MSE's Executive Chair, overseeing the site, focusing on journalism and content quality, ethics, strategy and creativity.

The Martin Lewis Money Show & journalism

The Martin Lewis Money Show is on in winter time at 8pm on ITV, Monday nights (between the two Coronation Streets). It is the UK's most watched current affairs programme averaging just under four million viewers. Series nine finished in February 2020.

Clip, courtesy of ITV, from The Martin Lewis Money Show Christmas Special 2018 (this clip went viral, viewed well over 16 million times and shared by over 310,000 people on Facebook).

There are also four hour-long live specials of the Martin Lewis Money Show spread across the year and a documentary strand that started with Martin Lewis: 10 things your kids need to know.   

Martin's also the resident expert on ITV's This Morning (Mon & Fri), Good Morning Britain (Thu) and BBC Radio 5 Live's Lunch Money Martin (Mon)He has regular columns in the Sunday Mirror, occasional columns in the FT and Telegraph and a syndicated column published by over 50 regional newspapers and magazines.

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

Martin is the founder, funder and chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute. It was set up in 2016 to research, lobby and innovate policies to try to break the toxic relationship between mental health issues and debt.

The institute has quickly established itself as an authoritative voice: making headlines, shaping policy and ultimately changing lives. It is the go-to organisation for high-quality research into practical solutions to the toxic link between financial difficulty and mental health problems.

Campaigns – bank charges, financial education, Facebook & more

Martin is often credited as the "big gob in chief" behind campaigns to reclaim bank chargesPPI and council tax. Over 10 million of his template letters have been downloaded and possibly (it's tough to calculate) over £10 billion repaid.

In 2014, he was the linchpin of the successful campaign to get financial education onto the national curriculum and still works with the All Party Parliamentary Group, pushing to improve provision.

In 2018 Martin funded the UK’s first curriculum mapped financial education textbook, via the Young Money charity and 340,000 copies distributed to every English state school (100 copies each) and it is also available as a free PDF download.

Unflinching from controversy, as the former head of the Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information he's berated the Government over retrospective student loan hikes, and pushed the plight of mortgage prisoners.

In 2018, he launched a campaigning lawsuit against Facebook to stop it publishing 1,000s of fake scam ads which target vulnerable people. To settle the case Facebook agreed to donate £3 million to set up the new Citizens Advice Scams Action project and to add a 'scam ads' reporting button to Facebook UK (the first of its kind in the world). See his Good Morning Britain interview about the lawsuit.

He's often called for meetings with ministers and shadow ministers and to give select committee evidence on a wide range of topics.

Martin Lewis's life lecture on BBC One's The One Show aired on 3 January 2017...

Video player requires JavaScript enabled. You can watch this video here: https://youtu.be/C2G9wkNKZ9c

The charity bit – Financial Education, Poverty Relief and more 

As in the founding of MMHPI, Martin tends to focus on projects which he has an active connection to, and likes to work with charities he’s donating to, unsurprisingly to ensure maximum bang for his buck…

The funding usually comes from the Martin Lewis Charity Fund which he set up in 2012 when MSE joined the MoneySupermarket group – an original donation of £10m, has become nearly £20m in total. Projects include….

  • Coronavirus Poverty Fund: In 2020, his Coronavirus Poverty Fund was urgently set up, funding £3.4m across 400+ charities.
  • Financial Education: Having successfully campaigned to get fin ed on the English National curriculum, Martin worked with ‘Young Money’ to fund three years of 'My Money Week' in most UK schools, and the UK’s first Financial Education Textbook – 365,000 copies were then distributed free to all English state schools (he’s working on similar for the other UK nations). 
  • The MSE Charity: In 2008, Martin launched the MSE Charity. So far it has helped connect around £2,000,000 in small grants to consumer finance and education charities.
  • Grief Encounter: He is also a patron of child bereavement charity Grief Encounter (see BBC 5 Live ‘Martin Lewis on losing his mother’). Plus, since 2019 he has funded the charities GriefTalk helpline, which gives instant counselling when children need it, which in his words “wasn’t available when I needed it”.
  • Citizens Advice: Martin has long had a close relationship with Citizens Advice. As well pointing the £3m Facebook lawsuit funds at the charity, to fund scam action. He’s personally donated £2m to set up its innovation fund
  • Support Through Court: Martin is a patron of Support Through Court. Its aim is to reduce the disadvantage of people facing the civil and family justice system without a lawyer, enabling them to access justice. As the charity’s funding was cut, Martin stepped in for 2020-21 to fund their helpline.
  • Social Mobility Partnership: Martin is a patron and works with the Social Mobility Business Partnership. A volunteer-led charity, SMBP is a collaboration of 130+ businesses committed to supporting Year 12 students from low income backgrounds in their pursuit of a career in business. 
  • Trussel Trust: He worked on and funded the roll out of Financial Triage at foodbanks, to provide urgent financial help when needed. 

Other charity associations and work include with the John Schofield Trust, Alzheimer’s Society, Mind and more.

Accolades, awards & positions of responsibility

Martin was appointed OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2014 for services to consumer rights and charity.

Before the EU referendum, many polls named Martin as the UK's most trusted voice, and by the end of the campaign he was the only person still trusted by supporters of both sides. His How to vote in the EU referendum guide was read over one million times.

He has been awarded the Beacon Philanthropy Fellowship and is in what may be a unique position of having hit the triple whammy of the Sunday Times Rich List, appearing in the charity giving list, the alternative rich list and the main rich list.

Martin is a member of the Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, an emeritus governor of his former university, the London School of Economics (LSE), has an honorary fellowship in journalism from the Cardiff University School of Journalism (where he studied his journalism postgraduate) and has honorary doctorates from the Open University, Chester University and Leeds Beckett.

He appeared in the new media section of the UK's 500 most influential people 2015 and the charity section of the 500 most influential people 2014. He's also been Consumer Journalist of the Year, Trading Standards National Consumer HeroBusiness Journalist of the Year and Citizens Advice Consumer Champion.

Author

Martin's main book, written earlier in his career, The Money Diet, twice topped the Amazon bestsellers list. He is also editor of Thrifty Ways, a book written of the wisdom of the MSE forums, and Three Lessons.

Outside the world of money

Martin is an athletics stats nerd, and always wanted to be a commentator as a teenager. In 2016, he fulfilled a lifelong ambition and started in-field presenting at major athletics events including the Olympic trials and the London Anniversary Games, culminating in the London World Athletics Championships 2017 – where he got to run the 100m in front of 60,000 fans just before Usain Bolt (though in a slightly slower time).

He has appeared on BBC One's Question Time, BBC Radio 4's Any Questions, BBC Two's Daily Politics and he regularly features in Dictionary Corner on Channel 4's Countdown.

He was a Celebrity Mastermind champion in 2012, won £150,000 on Celebrity Millionaire (which was donated to Citizens Advice) and captained the LSE team (which tragically lost on a tie-break) in Celebrity University Challenge 2015.

Back in 2009 he even had his own one-man West End show, MoneySaving Live, and a featuring credit in a Top 40 chart hit, I Fought The Lloyds.

A fan of spreadsheets, he averages more than 407 points a game at Scrabble although, sadly, he scores similarly at golf.

He runs regularly to "manage the stress", yet is obsessed by targets when doing so. He hit his 2,000km target in 2017, and his record 10km time is 48.27 (in 2016).

Martin counts his steps too, and in 2019 averaged 24,322 a day.

In his spare time he used to do a bit of rock n' roll-esque dancing (before the knees struggled). He supports Manchester City, and loves The Big Bang Theory (Bazinga!).

What did Martin Lewis do before MoneySaving?

He first moved to London from Cheshire, aged 19, to study Government and Law at the LSE, where he spent time dabbling in student politics, then a year as general secretary (president) of the students' union – where he also was chosen as a UK representative at the UN World Youth Leaders' conference in Seoul, South Korea.

After graduating, he went to work 'for the other side' as a City spin doctor in financial public relations, while dabbling in stand-up comedy in his spare time to "relieve the tedium".

He later returned to university – this time to study a practical postgraduate diploma in broadcast journalism at Cardiff University.

This led to a staff job in the BBC's Business Unit, where he worked on personal finance and business programmes. He spent time as a business editor at Radio 4's Today programme, and later reported for BBC One, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live.

Martin left the BBC on 31 December 1999, to go to a small, now-defunct digital television channel called Simply Money, where he first became the 'Money Saving Expert'.

Profiles – recent and over the years

Many profiles have been written about Martin in the papers. Those still available online, good or bad, have been included here – though as always with these things, some are riddled with inaccuracies, but we've included 'em anyway.

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