Martin Lewis (financial journalist)
9 May 1972 |
Withington, Manchester, UK
|Occupation||Television presenter, journalist, author, entrepreneur|
|Spouse(s)||Lara Lewington (m. 2009)|
Lewis markets himself as, and is often referred to in the media as, the "consumer campaigner" and the "consumer champion" and uses the (trademarked) title of "Money Saving Expert".
- 1 Early years
- 2 Education
- 3 Career
- 4 Controversies
- 5 Campaigns
- 6 Recognition
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Books
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Lewis was born at Withington Hospital in Manchester in 1972. His family lived in the Manchester suburb of Didsbury. Still a youngster, Lewis moved with his family to the village of Norley near Delamere Forest in rural Cheshire where his father was appointed headmaster of Delamere Forest School; a special school for dyslexia.
Lewis attended the King's School, a top independent school in Chester. Lewis went on to read government and law at the London School of Economics. In 1997, Lewis became a postgraduate student in broadcast journalism at Cardiff University Centre for Journalism Studies. In 2013, Lewis was given an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from the University of Chester.
Lewis has also tried his hand at stand-up comedy.
TV and radio career
Lewis then moved to the satellite TV channel Simply Money presented by Angela Rippon, where he cultivated his Money Saving Expert persona. From the outset, the satellite channel suffered poor viewing figures, and eventually its main backer, Invest TV Resources, decided to pull the plug in March 2001. Almost all of its 51 staff, including Lewis, lost their jobs.
After the collapse of Simply Money, Lewis was asked to write a Deal of the Week column in the Sunday Express tabloid. Lewis was also granted MoneySavingExpert slots on Channel 5's Open House with Gloria Hunniford.
In 2005, Lewis was given a daytime television series on ITV called Make Me Rich and in 2008, a peak time programme on Five called It Pays to Watch!. Lewis has also presented money special editions for ITV's Tonight, and has featured as a "Money Saving Expert" on several other magazine programmes including Daybreak and Lorraine.
Lewis currently appears on ITV's This Morning, Channel 5's The Wright Stuff and as a guest on other news and magazine programmes including periodic appearances on the BBC consumer programme Watchdog. In 2012, he began co-presenting his own ITV show The Martin Lewis Money Show, alongside Saira Khan.
Lewis has a fortnightly column in the Sunday Post and a monthly regional syndicated column in the Manchester Evening News and the Express & Star amongst others. He has been a past columnist for the Sunday Times, News of the World, The Guardian and the Sunday Express. All his columns are on the theme of money saving.
He is the author of two bestselling books, The Money Diet and The Three Most Important Lessons You've Never Been Taught and edited another, Thrifty Ways for Modern Days, which was based on contributions to a forum on his website.
Dot com career
Lewis created and runs the website MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE). In September 2012 he sold the website to the Moneysupermarket.com group for up to £87m - though he remains editor-in-chief. This would net Lewis £35m cash upfront as well as 22.1m shares in Moneysupermarket.com. He simultaneously announced intention to gift £10m to charity, of which £1m would go to Citizens Advice.
As of February 2012 MSE was reportedly ranked the biggest consumer and personal finance site in the UK with over 13 million users each month. Lewis claims to hold 7 million email addresses of those opting for the free Martin's Money Tips weekly e-mail.
The website was originally designed for Lewis for a cost of just £100 in February 2003. However, today, Lewis employs a team of 40 full-time members of staff at "MoneySaving Towers" in Shepherd's Bush, west London. The website carries no advertisements, but instead relies on affiliate links to other websites. Lewis receives commission for purchases made and/or through-clicks from his website.
MoneySavingExpert.com makes strong claims about its ethical status, defined as only ever writing about the best products, without allowing revenue to impact that. These claims are boosted by its publicised donation of almost £500,000 to date to the MSE Charity Fund. This money is in turn distributed: two thirds to the MSE Charity and the rest to five other charities nominated by site users.
In 2010, Martin Lewis was a presenter on GMTV with Lorraine, a lively weekday morning chat show. The programme includes a regular feature called Deals of the Week. Ofcom investigated a complaint that the programme promoted moneysavingexpert.com, a website owned and run by Mr Lewis as a commercial enterprise.
Lewis denied any wrongdoing, and continues to do so. However, the Ofcom report concluded: 'By inviting viewers to obtain further information and vouchers on the GMTV website, and then re-directing them to Martin Lewis' commercial website to obtain that information, the programme was effectively promoting his business. As a result of this promotion, the programme was in breach of Rule 10.3 of the Code.'
In late 2005, campaigns against what were claimed to be unfair bank charges gained momentum and a few small websites started to highlight the issue. Lewis was at the forefront of the media campaign to reclaim what he states are unfair and unlawful fees charged by UK banks. He presented the first mainstream television programme on how to get your money back (ITV1's Tonight) and in November 2006 published a step-by-step guide, including template letters, which speedily achieved its millionth download in February 2007 and by August 2007 had over four million downloads as well as regularly appearing across the media to champion the issue.
His campaign suffered a major setback in November 2009 when the Supreme Court ruled that the charges imposed by banks formed part of their fees for current account services and could not be assessed for fairness under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. Although in the following days he announced that in association with other consumer groups he had hired Ray Cox QC (a barrister with previous experience of banking cases) to look into new legal arguments for account holders wishing to reclaim charges, which might possibly use regulation 5 of the Unfair Terms act as suggested by the Supreme Court Judgement, This attempt suffered a further setback when, on 22 December 2009, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued a statement saying that it had decided against taking forward such an investigation because it "would have a very limited scope and low prospects of success". The updated template letters allowing individuals to attempt to recover bank charges individually was further delayed from the promised date of the third week of January 2010 eventually being published late on 2 February 2010 although that then concentrated mainly on reclaiming on financial hardship grounds only, with hopes for further information regarding claims on legal grounds made via courts to "go live in the next couple of weeks"; the guide was eventually published late on 24 February 2010.
Lewis initially admitted "our instinctive guess is even with the new argument there is only a 10-20% chance of most people now getting charges back". although in his later updated guide said in relation to claiming via the courts the "chances of success are impossible to work out" and also "if you’ve had charges and don’t fit the Ombudsman’s criteria, it’s at this point you may need to accept you won’t get your money back or at least wait to see others are successful.".
In January 2007, he presented a programme Tonight on Council Tax Cashback, a campaign to get everyone in the UK to check and potentially challenge their Council Tax band, that first started on his website and has led, according to his website, to "many" backdated windfall payments resulting from thousands of claims.
In summer 2008, Lewis appeared on several television & radio programmes exhorting consumers to "cap your energy bills now", based on the prediction that there would be a further round of price increases at the end of 2008. "Capping prices" involved consumers locking themselves into rates higher than prevailing un-capped rates. After that point British Gas announced an increase of 30% on its un-capped prices, though in January 2009 UK energy companies' un-capped prices were reduced by up to 10%.
Information published by Uswitch, a price comparison site whose business motivation is to encourage frequent switching between energy suppliers, after the price cuts, in February 2009, suggested that "Those who were savvy enough to sign up to a competitive fixed-price plan last summer, before some increases in wholesale energy were passed on, are sitting pretty as prices would need to drop by 16% on average before it would be worth moving" but failed to be clear about which specific capped deals it was basing this assertion on, and when it was sensible to have committed to a capped rate deal.
Other large scale campaigns, with ensuing television programmes, include reclaiming payment protection insurance (it is predicted that this may grow to the same scale as bank charge reclaiming), reclaiming mortgage exit fees and reclaiming credit card charges, all of which have resulted in over 100,000 template letter downloads, according to Lewis' website.
Lewis is married to long-time partner, former 5 News weather presenter Lara Lewington.  They were wed on 31 May 2009. She gave birth to her first baby, Sapphire Susan Lewis, on 1 November 2012.
Other than money saving, Lewis declares his interests as playing Scrabble, golf and reading historic novels. Being born a few miles from Maine Road in 1972, he is a keen supporter of Manchester City.
Lewis is Jewish and practices the Jewish faith.
- (2005) The Money Diet: The Ultimate Guide to Shedding Pounds Off Your Bills and Saving Money on Everything!, Vermilion
- (ed 2006) Thrifty Ways for Modern Days, Vermilion
- (2008) The Three Most Important Lessons You've Never Been Taught: MoneySavingExpert.Com, Vermilion
- Jardine, Cassandra (6 January 2006). "This man can save you £6,000 a year". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
- Taylor, Paul (21 February 2007). "Mr Supersaver's on a mission". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2011-09-04.
- Martin Lewis Blog - July 2005
- "Martin Lewis Biography". Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- "Sourcewatch - Brunswick Group". Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- "MoneySavingExpert Forums Martin Lewis comedy background post". Retrieved 3 September 2006.
- Metro, 6 December 2005, Martin Lewis
- "Backers abandon Simply Money". 28 March 2001. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- "BBC Business Report 2001". BBC News. 4 July 2001. Retrieved 3 September 2006.
- "It Pays To Watch Website". Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- "The Scotsman, Martin Lewis, moneysaving champ". Retrieved 3 September 2006.
- "The Three Most Important Lessons You've Never Been Taught". Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- "Martin's Money Tips inc. Bestseller info". Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- "Thrifty Ways for Modern Days". Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- BBC news report
- Wall, Emma, "Martin Lewis sells MoneySavingExpert website for £87m", The Telegraph, 1 June 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
- "Statistics from bottom right of MoneySavingExpert home page stats". MoneySavingExpert.com. Retrieved 24 Feb 2012.
- MoneySavingExpert.com, About
- How this site is financed MoneySavingExpert.com
- MSE Charity Fund MoneySavingExpert.com
- Companies House[dead link] Companies House website - enter company number 04557992 and press "search"
- "GMTV criticised over Moneysavingexpert slot". Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- "offcom Broadcast Bulletin Issue 154". Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Hickman, Martin (23 February 2007). "The Independent". London. Retrieved 22 February 2007.
- "MoneySavingExpert.com Stats section". Retrieved 28 August 2007.
- "'Court rules in favour of banks on charges - Reuters'". 25 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- "'Ray Cox QC Biography - Fountain Courts'". Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- Evans, Richard (25 November 2009). "'Overdraft charges: it's not over yet, says Martin Lewis - Telegraph'". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- "'MSE hires top QC - moneysavingexpert.com news'". Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- "'OFT announces decision and next steps on bank charges'". Retrieved 14 January 2010.
- "'Martin's Money Tips Weekly Email' 23rd December 2009". Retrieved 14 January 2010.
- "'Martin's Money Tips Weekly Email' 03 February 2010". Retrieved 23 February 2010.
- "'Bank Charges Reclaiming'". Retrieved 23 February 2010.
- "'Bank Charges Court Guide'". Retrieved 24 February 2010.
- "'Bank Charges Q&A: door reopened for reclaimers?'". Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- "Council Tax Cashback: Reclaim £1000s". Retrieved 20 January 2007.
- "Council Tax Reclaiming Success Reports". Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- "Power price hike". 7 August 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2009. "GMTV's Martin Lewis said: "EDF is the first of the big six suppliers to announce a price rise. Once one provider puts its prices up, the others normally follow within five to six weeks, as they operate a herd mentality. I urge everyone to cap their tariffs at the cheapest possible rate as soon as possible. "By that, I mean today or tomorrow and no later. You can still lock in cheap prices if you do it straight away, but cheap caps are vanishing faster than a rabbit at a greyhound track. Do remember that this is only the first round of rises; expect another round in December or January, if not earlier - this is why fixing's so important.""
- Leaving a fixed deal could save you money Times Online, 15 February 2009
- "Loan Insurance Reclaiming". Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- Hickman, Martin. "The Independent: £4bn protection racket". London. Retrieved 20 January 2007.
- "Mortgage Fee Reclaiming". Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- "Credit Card Reclaiming". Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- "Martin Lewis's Blog". Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- "Blog MoneySavingExpert". Retrieved 3 January 2008.
- "Lara's Biography". Retrieved 3 January 2008.
- "Announcement on MSE forums". Retrieved 2 June 2009.
- Lara Lewington and Jonnie Irwin, OK! magazine, 18 November 2008.
- "MSE Martin's Profile". Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- "A moment’s pause for Stuart Pearce". http://blog.moneysavingexpert.com. 15 May 2007. Retrieved 2011-09-05.
- "Martin Lewis: the money expert who can save on anything except kosher meat". Retrieved 30 October 2012.
- MoneySavingExpert, Lewis's official website homepage
- MoneySavingExpert channel on Youtube.com
- Martin Lewis on Twitter
- Martin Lewis on Facebook[dead link]