Martin Lewis biography

Martin Lewis biography

Martin Lewis CBE, the Money Saving Expert, founded this site – by far the UK's biggest consumer help website – in 2003 and is currently its Executive Chair. He is an award-winning campaigning journalist & broadcaster, has his own prime-time ITV show, is a newspaper columnist, charity founder, author and according to Google, the UK's most searched-for British man.

Born in Manchester in 1972, he grew up in Cheshire's Delamere Forest. Today he lives in London with his wife, BBC Click presenter Lara (aka Mrs MSE), and nine-year-old daughter Sapphire (aka Mini MSE).

In 2012, he started his own, now live, prime-time ITV series, The Martin Lewis Money Show, which after 11 series is these days a staple of the TV schedule, attracting millions of viewers each week. Martin is also a resident expert on many other shows, and a regular guest presenter of ITV's Good Morning Britain.

In 2016, he founded the influential Money and Mental Health Policy Institute charity, which he still funds and chairs (see more details on Martin's charity fund).

He has spearheaded major financial justice campaigns, including on reclaiming bank charges and PPI (helping consumers get paid back over £10 billion on those two alone); and successfully campaigned to get financial education on the national curriculum, as well as personally funding over 300,000 free textbooks for all state schools.

And to really embarrass him (ie, show off)... in profile pieces

Big Issue Magazine cover with a photo of Martin Lewis, describing him as the most influential man in Britain

- The Financial Times called him "the most successful journalist in the world, ever"(2015)
- The Guardian said he is "the most trusted man in Britain" (2019)
- The Economist said he "has a good claim to be the most influential man in British politics" (2022)
- The Sunday Times called him "the real shadow chancellor" (2022).

For more info, listen to Martin's BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs and watch his ITV How to be successful biographical documentary.

Or just follow him on social media: Twitter | Facebook | TikTok | Instagram

That's the summary… but if you want to know more, read on

Though if you're the Wikipedia type and want the exhaustive (ie, exhausting) "Who is Martin Lewis?" list of stats and facts, read on. And do remember that if there's a conflict between this page and the crowdsourced Martin Lewis Wiki entry, it's correct here, not there...

Founder & Chair, MoneySavingExpert.com

Martin set up this site in his living room in 2003 for a total capital outlay of £80. With a focus on how to cut bills without cutting back, it soon saw explosive growth. And very quickly it became the UK's biggest consumer site, a title it has now held for well over a decade.

The site has also long resided in the top 100 biggest sites in the UK, and now has over 16 million monthly users. For more on how it got here, read the history of MoneySavingExpert.com.

In many ways, the site's success was powered by the Martin's Money Tips weekly email (these days it has been slightly renamed to the MSE Money Tips email). Over 14 million people have signed up to be sent that email and it's received by over eight million active addresses each week.

In 2012, MSE joined the MoneySupermarket Group – with Martin continuing in his role as Editor-in-Chief. At the end of 2015, the period contracted in the sale, the contractual relationship was over and Martin could have left (or been asked to leave).

Yet no one wanted that. So in 2016 Martin moved from Editor-in-Chief to a permanent new role as MSE's Executive Chair, overseeing the site, focusing on journalism and content quality, ethics, strategy and creativity. A role he relished and continues to do to this day – still playing the leading role in MSE and what it does.

The Martin Lewis Money Show & journalism

Martin is proudly a journalist by trade. His flagship output, apart from this site, is his prime-time ITV current affairs programme – The Martin Lewis Money Show – which has been running since 2012. 

Earlier series were recorded at roadshows across the country, with up-to-date filming done just before transmission, so that all of the information was current.

In 2020, that turned into The Martin Lewis Money Show Live, first as a one-off emergency pandemic special, but that proved so successful that it's now always live. The 12th series is due to start in October 2022.

The series is consistently ranked as the UK's most watched current affairs show.

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). You can download a PDF (102 kB) featuring a transcription of what Martin says in the video.

For over 15 years Martin has appeared as the resident expert, with multiple weekly slots, on ITV's daytime shows' Good Morning BritainThis Morning, and Lorraine – cutting down to just This Morning in 2021 due to other growing commitments, including work as a guest main presenter of Good Morning Britain.

Martin continues to appear every Wednesday at 1pm on BBC Radio 5 Live's Ask Martin (the show's been running for over a decade now).

Other TV programmes Martin has worked on over the years include Martin Lewis's Extreme Savers, and The Price of Fame interview show, which explored the business behind celebrity.

Over the years Martin has written for pretty much all of the major newspapers from The Mirror to the Financial Times, though now, due to time commitments, he just has a syndicated column published by over 50 regional newspapers and magazines.

Martin and his co-host on the Martin Lewis Money Show, Angellica Bell

Picture credit: The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV

Martin's charities and charity work

Martin has a substantial charity focus in his work these days. He's set up two successful charities, and provides time and resources to a number of others. As he said in his life lessons lecture:

"I've been very fortunate to have more financial success than I could have ever dreamed of in my career – it feels almost accidental. So I accept that as with anyone's success, an element of that is due to luck.

"Once you understand that, then it feels important to acknowledge that what comes with that is a responsibility to give back. And that doesn't just mean writing a cheque, but by fully engaging in projects too, and giving them the same energy you give the day job."

Martin's donations are worked via the charity fund he set up in 2012. He has founded the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute, his Coronavirus Poverty Fund and the MSE Charity. Yet the web of charity work spreads far beyond that. Full info, facts and figures are in his What happened to my pledge to give £10 million to charity? (spoiler alert – it's now £20 million).

Campaigns – bank charges, financial education & more

Martin is often credited as the "big gob in chief" behind campaigns to reclaim bank charges (over six million template letters downloaded and £1 billion back), PPI (over £10 billion back via his and this site's work), and council tax reclaiming (many 10,000s rebanded).

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

In 2018, as above, Martin funded the UK's first curriculum-mapped financial education textbook via the Young Money charity, and 340,000 copies have been distributed to every English state school (100 copies each). It's also available as a free PDF download (51 MB). Now there's also Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish versions too.

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.

Also 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.

Though actually much of the work Martin does, backed up by the MSE campaigns team, is "soft influence" – meeting with ministers, giving evidence to committees, regulators and more, all trying to push the consumer perspective. In May 2022, Martin was credited by many as being one of the main driving forces that pushed the Government to intervene and launch an around £20 billion help package for the cost of living crisis.

Here you can watch Martin's 'life lecture' on BBC One's The One Show, which aired on 3 January 2017.

You can turn on subtitles by clicking the closed captions icon at the bottom right of the video.

Martin Lewis life lecture
Embedded YouTube Video

Accolades, awards & positions of responsibility

Martin holding his OBE medal with his wife Lara outside Buckingham Palace

Martin was appointed OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2014 for services to consumer rights and charity. And then he was upgraded to a CBE in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to broadcasting and consumer rights.

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, is an emeritus governor of his former university, the London School of Economics (LSE) and has an honorary fellowship in journalism from the Cardiff University School of Journalism (where he studied his journalism postgraduate). Plus, he 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.

In 2020, his ITV Martin Lewis Money Show won the TV Choice public vote for Best Lifestyle Show. He's also been Consumer Journalist of the Year, Trading Standards National Consumer Hero, Business Journalist of the Year and Citizens Advice Consumer Champion.

Martin as a published 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 Forum, and Three Lessons.

Martin's interests 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 100 metres 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 Politics Live and, when time allows, regularly features in Dictionary Corner on Channel 4's Countdown.

Martin was a Celebrity Mastermind champion in 2012, won £150,000 on Celebrity Millionaire (which he donated to Citizens Advice), captained the LSE team (which tragically lost on a tie-break) in Celebrity University Challenge 2015, and won his week on House of Games in 2021. 

In 2009 he even had his own one-man West End show, MoneySaving Live, a featuring credit in a Top 40 chart hit, I Fought The Lloyds, and in 2019, for a one-off performance of All Star Musicals on ITV, even donned a technicolour dreamcoat to sing as Joseph.

A fan of spreadsheets, he averages more than 407 points a game at Scrabble and, sadly, he scores similarly at golf. Though in July 2021, in a twist of sporting fate, he scored his first ever hole-in-one, followed by a second two days later – a chance occurrence of roughly 26 million to one.

He’s steps obsessed too, and last missed 10,000 steps a day back in October 2016. In 2021, he averaged 25,437 steps a day. This does include running though, which he does to "manage the stress".

In his spare time Martin used to do a bit of rock 'n' roll-esque dancing (before the knees struggled).

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 was also 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 newspapers and online, plus he's done a few in-depth profiles for radio.

The main ones that are still available online, good or bad, have been included below – though as always with these things, a few may be riddled with inaccuracies, but we've included 'em anyway.

 

 

Spotted out of date info/broken links? Email: brokenlink@moneysavingexpert.com