The paper, published and owned by Nikkei in London, was founded in 1888 by James Sheridan and Horatio Bottomley, and merged in 1945 with its closest rival, the Financial News (which had been founded in 1884).
The Financial Times has an average daily readership of 2.2 million people worldwide (PwC audited figures, November 2011). FT.com has 4.5 million registered users and over 285,000 digital subscribers, as well as 600,000 paying users. FT Chinese has more than 1.7 million registered users. The world editions of the Financial Times newspaper had a combined average daily circulation of 234,193 copies (88,000 for the UK edition) in January 2014. In February 2014 the combined sale of the world editions of the Financial Times was 224,000 copies. In October 2013 the combined paid print and digital circulation of the Financial Times reached nearly 629,000 copies (282,000 for print and 387,000 for online sales), the highest circulation in its 125-year history. As of August 2014, print sales for the paper (all editions combined) stood at 210,182.
The FT was launched as the London Financial Guide on 10 January 1888, renaming itself the Financial Times on 13 February the same year. Describing itself as the friend of "The Honest Financier, the Bona Fide Investor, the Respectable Broker, the Genuine Director, and the Legitimate Speculator", it was a four-page journal. The readership was the financial community of the City of London, its only rival being the slightly older and more daring Financial News. On 2 January 1893 the FT began printing on light salmon pink paper to distinguish it from the similarly named Financial News: at the time it was also cheaper to print on unbleached paper (several other more general newspapers such as the Pink 'Un had the same policy), but nowadays it is more expensive as the paper has to be dyed specially.
After 57 years of rivalry the Financial Times and the Financial News were merged in 1945 by Brendan Bracken to form a single six-page newspaper. The Financial Times brought a higher circulation while the Financial News provided much of the editorial talent. The Lex column was also introduced from Financial News.
Pearson bought the paper in 1957. Over the years the paper grew in size, readership and breadth of coverage. It established correspondents in cities around the world, reflecting early moves in the world economy towards globalisation. As cross-border trade and capital flows increased during the 1970s, the FT began international expansion, facilitated by developments in technology and the growing acceptance of English as the international language of business. On 1 January 1979 the first FT (Continental Europe edition) was printed outside the UK, in Frankfurt. Since then, with increased international coverage, the FT has become a global newspaper, printed in 22 locations with five international editions to serve the UK, continental Europe, the U.S., Asia and the Middle East.
The European edition is distributed in continental Europe and Africa. It is printed Monday to Saturday at five centres across Europe. Thanks to correspondents reporting from all the centres of Europe, the FT is regarded as a leading news source on matters concerning the European Union, the Euro and European corporate affairs.
In 1994 FT launched a luxury lifestyle magazine, How To Spend It. In 2009 it launched a standalone website for the magazine.
On 13 May 1995 the Financial Times group made its first foray into the online world with the launch of FT.com. This provided a summary of news from around the globe, which was supplemented in February 1996 with stock price coverage; the second-generation site was launched in spring 1996. The site was funded by advertising and contributed to the online advertising market in the UK in the late 1990s. Between 1997 and 2000 the site underwent several revamps and changes of strategy, as the FT Group and Pearson reacted to changes online. FT introduced subscription services in 2002. FT.com is one of the few UK news sites successfully funded by individual subscription.
In 1997 the FT launched a U.S. edition, printed in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Orlando and Washington, D.C., although the newspaper was first printed outside New York City in 1985. In September 1998 the FT became the first UK-based newspaper to sell more copies internationally than within the UK.
In 2000 the Financial Times started publishing a German-language edition, Financial Times Deutschland, with a news and editorial team based in Hamburg. Its initial circulation in 2003 was 90,000. It was originally a joint venture with a German publishing firm, Gruner + Jahr. In January 2008 the FT sold its 50% stake to its German partner. FT Deutschland never made a profit and is said to have accumulated losses of €250 million over 12 years. It closed on 7 December 2012.
The Financial Times launched a new weekly supplement for the fund management industry on 4 February 2002. FT fund management (FTfm) was and still is distributed with the paper every Monday. FTfm is the world's largest-circulation fund management title.
Since 2005 the FT has sponsored the annual ''Financial Times'' and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.
On 23 April 2007 the FT unveiled a "refreshed" version of the newspaper and introduced a new slogan, "We Live in Financial Times."
In 2007 the FT pioneered a metered paywall, which lets visitors to its site read a limited number of free articles during any one month before asking them to pay. Four years later the FT launched its HTML5 mobile internet app. Smartphones and tablets now drive 12% of subscriptions and 19% of traffic to FT.com. In 2012 the number of digital subscribers surpassed the circulation of the newspaper for the first time and the FT drew almost half of its revenue from subscriptions rather than advertising.
According to the Global Capital Markets Survey, which measures readership habits amongst most senior financial decision makers in the world's largest financial institutions, the Financial Times is considered the most important business read, reaching 36% of the sample population, 11% more than The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), its main rival. The Economist, which was once 50% owned by FT, reaches 32%. FT's The Banker also proved vital reading, reaching 24%. In addition FT was regarded as the most credible publication in reporting financial and economic issues among the Worldwide Professional Investment Community audience. The Economist was also rated the third most credible title by most influential professional investors (those who personally managed asset funds worth $5 billion or more), while the WSJ was second.
The FT is split into two sections. The first section covers domestic and international news, editorial commentary on politics and economics from FT journalists such as Martin Wolf, Gillian Tett and Edward Luce, and opinion pieces from globally renowned leaders, policymakers, academics and commentators. The second section consists of financial data and news about companies and markets. Despite being generally regarded as primarily a financial newspaper, it does also contain TV listings, weather and other more informal articles.
About 110 of its 475 journalists are outside the UK.
The Lex column
The Lex column is a daily feature on the back page of the first section. It features analyses and opinions covering global economics and finance. The FT calls Lex its agenda-setting column. The column first appeared on Monday, 1 October 1945. The name may originally have stood for Lex Mercatoria, a Latin expression meaning literally "merchant law". It was conceived by Hargreaves Parkinson for the Financial News in the 1930s and moved to the Financial Times when the two merged.
Lex boasts some distinguished alumni who have gone on to make careers in business and government – including Nigel Lawson (former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer), Richard Lambert (CBI director and former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee), Martin Taylor (former chief executive of Barclays), John Makinson (chairman and chief executive of Penguin), John Gardiner (former chairman of Tesco), David Freud (former UBS banker and Labour adviser, now a Conservative peer), John Kingman (former head of UKFI and a banker at Rothschild's), George Graham (RBS banker), Andrew Balls (head of European portfolio management at PIMCO) and Jo Johnson (Conservative Member of Parliament for Orpington).
The FT publishes a Saturday edition of the newspaper called the Financial Times Weekend. It consists of international economic and political news, Companies & Markets, Life & Arts, House & Home and FT Magazine.
How to Spend It
How to Spend It is a monthly magazine published with FT Weekend. Founded and launched by Julia Carrick with Lucia van der Post as founding editor, its articles concern luxury goods such as yachts, mansions, apartments, horlogerie, haute couture and automobiles, as well as fashion and columns by individuals in the arts, gardening, food, and hotel and travel industries. To celebrate its 15th anniversary, FT launched the on-line version of this publication, howtospendit.com, on 3 October 2009.
Some media commentators were taken aback by the online launch of a website supporting conspicuous consumption during the financial austerity of the late-2000s recession. The magazine has been derided in rival publishers' blogs, as "repellent" in the Telegraph and "a latter-day Ab Fab manual" in the Guardian. A 'well-thumbed' copy of the supplement was found when rebel forces broke into Colonel Gaddafi's Tripoli compound during the 2011 Libyan Civil War.
The FT advocates free markets and is in favour of globalisation. During the 1980s it supported Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan's monetarist policies. It has supported the UK Labour Party in the past, including at the general election in 1992 when Neil Kinnock was Labour leader.
The FT's editorials tend to be moderately pro-Europe, supporting the European Union in the context of a common economic market and opposing political integration. The FT was firmly opposed to the Iraq War.
In the U.S. presidential election in 2008 the Financial Times endorsed Barack Obama. While it raised concerns over hints of protectionism, it praised his ability to "engage the country's attention," his calls for a bipartisan politics, and his plans for "comprehensive health-care reform". The FT favoured Obama again in 2012.
In the general election in the UK in 2010 the FT was receptive to the Liberal Democrats' positions on civil liberties and political reform, and praised the then Labour leader Gordon Brown for his response to the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, but on balance it backed the Conservatives while questioning their tendency to Euroscepticism. At the subsequent general election in 2015, the FT called for the continuation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition that had governed for the previous five years.
The Financial Times Group, a division of Pearson PLC since 1957, was sold in July 2015 to Japanese company Nikkei for £844m. Until August 2015 the FT group had a 50% shareholding in The Economist, which was sold to the Agnelli family for £469 million. 
Related publications include the Financial Times, FT.com, FT Search Inc., the publishing imprint FT Press and numerous joint ventures. In November 2013 it agreed to sell Mergermarket (an online intelligence reporting family) to London private equity investor BC Partners. In addition, the FT Group has a unit called FT Business which is a provider of specialist information on retail, personal and institutional finance segments. It publishes The Banker, Money Management and Financial Adviser (a publication targeted at professional advisers), This Is Africa, fDi intelligence and Professional Wealth Management (PWM).
The Financial Times Group announced the beta launch of newssift FT Search, Inc. in March 2009. Newssift.com is a next-generation search tool for business professionals that indexes millions of articles from thousands of global business news sources, not just the FT. The Financial Times Group acquired Money Media (an online news and commentary site for the industry) and Exec-Appointments (an online recruitment specialist site for the executive jobs market). The FT Group once had a 13.85% stake in Business Standard Ltd of India, the publisher of the Business Standard. It sold this stake in April 2008 and has entered into an agreement with Network 18 to launch the Financial Times in India, though it is speculated that they may find it difficult to do so, as the brand 'Financial Times' in India is owned by The Times Group, the publisher of The Times of India and The Economic Times. The group also publishes America's Intelligence Wire, a daily general newswire service.
The Financial Times' Financial Publishing division (formerly FT Business) provides print and online content for retail, personal and institutional finance audiences. Examples of publications and services include: Investors Chronicle, a personal finance magazine and website; "FT Money", a weekly personal finance supplement in "FT Weekend"; FT Wealth, a magazine for the global high-net-worth community and FTfm, a weekly review of the global fund management industry, Money Management and Financial Adviser (a publication targeted at professional advisers). The institutional segment includes: The Banker, This Is Africa, fDi Intelligence and Professional Wealth Management (PWM).Money-Media, a separate arm of Financial Publishing, delivers a range of digital information services for fund management professionals around the globe, including: Ignites, Ignites Europe, Ignites Asia, FundFire and BoardIQ. Financial Publishing includes publications (Pensions Expert and Deutsche Pensions & Investmentnachrichten) and events (Investment Expert) for the European pensions industry. The group also publishes MandateWire, a financial information company that provides sales and market intelligence for investment professionals in North America, Europe and Asia.
FT Knowledge is an associated company which offers educational products and services. FT Knowledge has offered the "Introducing the City" course (which is a series of Wednesday night lectures and seminars, as well as weekend events) during each autumn and spring since 2000. FT Predict is a prediction market contest hosted by the Financial Times that allows users to buy and sell contracts based on future financial, political, and news-driven events by spending fictional Financial Times Dollars (FT$). Based on the assumptions displayed in James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds, this contest allows people to use prediction markets to observe future occurrences while competing for weekly and monthly prizes.
The Financial Times also ran a business-related game called "In the Pink" (a phrase meaning "in good health", also a reference to the color of the newspaper and to the phrase "in the red" meaning to be making a loss). Each player was put in the virtual role of Chief Executive and the goal was to have the highest profit when the game closes. The winner of the game (the player who makes the highest profit) was to receive a real monetary prize of £10,000. The game ran from 1 May to 28 June 2006.
The Financial Times collates and publishes a number of financial market indices, which reflect the changing value of their constituent parts. The longest-running of these was the former Financial News Index, started on 1 July 1935 by the Financial News. The FT published a similar index; this was replaced by the Financial News Index—which was then renamed the Financial Times (FT) Index—on 1 January 1947. The index started as an index of industrial shares, and companies with dominant overseas interests were excluded, such as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later BP), British-American Tobacco, Lever Brothers (later Unilever) and Shell. The oil and financial sectors were included decades later.
The FTSE All-Share Index, the first of the FTSE series of indices, was created in 1962, comprising the largest 594 UK companies by market capitalisation. The letters F-T-S-E represented that FTSE was a joint venture between the Financial Times (F-T) and the London Stock Exchange (S-E). On 13 February 1984 the FTSE 100 was introduced, representing about eighty percent of the London Stock Exchange's value. In 1995 FTSE Group was made an independent company. The first of several overseas offices was opened in New York City in 1999; Paris followed in early 2000, Hong Kong, Frankfurt and San Francisco in 2001, Madrid in 2002 and Tokyo in 2003.
Other well-known FTSE indices include the FTSE 350 Index, the FTSE SmallCap Index, the FTSE AIM UK 50 Index and FTSE AIM 100 Index as well as the FTSE AIM All-Share Index for stocks, and the FTSE UK Gilt Indices for government bonds.
- Lionel Barber (Editor) (1 January 2006 – present)
- Gillian Tett (Markets and Finance Columnist; Assistant Editor)
- Lucy Kellaway (Management Columnist)
- Tim Harford (Senior Columnist)
- Gideon Rachman (Chief International Affairs Commentator)
- Martin Wolf (Chief Economics Commentator)
- Jurek Martin (Columnist and former Washington Bureau Chief)
- Michael Skapinker (Columnist and Associate Editor)
- Edward Luce (Washington, D.C., Bureau Chief)
- Roula Khalaf (Foreign Editor; Assistant Editor)
- Philip Stephens (Associate Editor)
In July 2006 the FT announced a "New Newsroom" project to integrate the newspaper more closely with FT.com. At the same time it announced plans to cut the editorial staff from 525 to 475. In August it announced that all the required job cuts had been achieved through voluntary layoffs.
A number of former FT journalists have gone on to high-profile jobs in journalism, politics and business. Robert Thomson, previously the paper's US managing editor, was the editor of The Times and is now the publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Will Lewis, a former New York correspondent and News Editor for the FT, is the current editor of the Daily Telegraph. Dominic Lawson went on to become editor of the Sunday Telegraph until he was sacked in 2005. Andrew Adonis, a former education correspondent, became an adviser on education to the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and was given a job as an education minister and a seat in the House of Lords after the 2005 election. Ed Balls became chief economic adviser to the Treasury, working closely with Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer (or finance minister) before being elected a Member of Parliament in 2005, and became Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families in July 2007. Bernard Gray, a former defence correspondent and Lex columnist, was chief executive of publishing company CMP before becoming chief executive of TSL Education, publisher of the Times Educational Supplement. David Jones, at one time the FT Night Editor, then became Head of IT. He was a key figure in the newspaper's transformation from hot metal to electronic composition and then onto full-page pagination in the 1990s. He went on to become Head of Technology for the Trinity Mirror Group.
Sir Geoffrey Owen was the editor of the Financial Times from 1981 to 1990. He joined the London School of Economics – Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) as Director of Business Policy in 1991 and was appointed Senior Fellow, Institute of Management, in 1997. He continues his work there. During his tenure at the FT he had to deal with rapid technological change and issues related to it, for example repetitive strain injury (RSI) which affected dozens of FT journalists, reporters and staff in the late 1980s.