An award-winning TV and radio presenter, Martin is a financial journalist, campaigner and charity founder who is passionate about financial education.
Ahead of his ceremony today, he said: “It’s a huge honour to come here and get an honorary doctorate – I’m especially excited that it’s in the field of education, which is a campaigning field I’ve been working on very heavily for the last five years. My big battle was to get financial education on the big curriculum, so to come here and see some acknowledgement of that I hope is another flag waving to the idea that every pupil in this country will finally get a decent bit of financial knowledge before they leave school.”
Martin launched Money Saving Expert in 2003 for £100 and remained its full-time Editor-in-Chief for 13 years until earlier this month when he became Executive Chairman. It is now the UK's biggest money site, with more than 15 million monthly users and 11 million signed up to receive the Martin’s Money Tips email.
“It takes four things to be successful”, commented Martin. “Hard work - you’ve got to work harder than everyone else. Talent - thankfully a lot of people are talented. Focus - that’s one that people forget, you’ve got to know what you want, follow down a path and be absolutely un-blinkered on it. And the last thing I’m afraid is luck – you can have the first three and it still may not work for you. I’ve been one of the lucky ones – but try as hard as you can and you’ll give yourself a good chance.”
Born in Manchester, Martin grew up in Cheshire's Delamere Forest and now lives in north-west London with his wife Lara. He first moved to London to study Government and Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he spent a year as president of the Students' Union. After graduating, he went to work in financial public relations.
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 BBC1, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live.
Martin left the BBC on the eve of the Millennium to go to a small, now-defunct digital television channel called Simply Money, which is where he first became the ‘Money Saving Expert’.
He now has his own prime-time ITV programme – The Martin Lewis Money Show – and is resident expert on This Morning, Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 5 Live's Consumer Panel, among others. He is also a columnist for national newspapers, with regular slots in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Mirror.
In 2012, MoneySavingExpert.com joined the MoneySupermarket group, and Martin used some of the proceeds to set up a £10 million charity fund. The first £1 million was donated to Citizens Advice and after wise investing the fund is now worth in excess of £15m.
He was appointed OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2014. Other awards he has received include Consumer Journalist of the Year and Citizens Advice Consumer Champion.
His passion for educating others on financial matters has only grown stronger and in 2016 he launched and founded the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, which conducts research and develops policy proposals to improve the lives of those with mental health conditions and financial problems on the basis that a quarter of people with a mental health problem have problem debts, too, and half of those in debt crisis have a mental health problem. Martin is also founder and patron of the Money Saving Expert Charity, which provides grants to groups to provide education and information about consumer and debt issues; and funds five general charities nominated by users of the moneysavingexpert site.
Leeds Beckett University Chancellor, Sir Bob Murray CBE, said: “Martin Lewis is a household name who has impacted, helped and made a difference to the lives of millions of people, not only with his expert financial, money-saving advice, but through the charities he has founded.
“His ethos provides great inspiration to our students and graduates alike, proving that if you work hard, remain driven and believe in your skills, ideas and yourself, that you can, and will be a success and we are delighted to recognise Martin’s work with this Honorary Doctorate.”