Meet... Neil Whitaker
Posted on Feb 23, 2018
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Choosing a financial adviser often comes down to finding somebody you gel with, who takes the time to understand your particular situation and builds your trust. You’ll need to feel comfortable enough to talk about quite sensitive issues – discussing your hopes and dreams in retirement or how to support a move into a residential care home.
It’s interesting then that when Partner Neil Whitaker joined Lloyds Bank after taking his ‘A’ levels, it wasn’t long before the manager took him to one side to praise him for his approach to customers.
“I guess I was only young, but he recognised something in me – he thought I was polite and got on well with people,” says Neil. “He offered me the chance to work in a more customer-facing role, marketing the bank’s services.”
He adds: “I have always believed in treating people the way I would want to be treated myself. It’s central to our ethos at The Goodman Partnership. We’re proud of our reputation of being trustworthy, reliable and professional but also of being approachable and friendly.”
While at school, banking wasn’t a career which Neil thought he’d end up in.
“To be honest, maths was not my strongest subject… so I’m not entirely sure how it happened but the careers officer at school organised my work experience at the local NatWest,” says Neil. “To my surprise, I enjoyed it and it was the encouragement I needed to apply for a job in banking.”
Looking to build his experience, Neil then applied for a role with some of the large insurance companies and, with a number of offers on the table, he chose Standard Life.
It was then, during the late-1980s that Neil first came across The Goodman Partnership. At that time, it was a firm focused on primarily providing advice to the owners, managers and staff of architect practices.
“I looked after the business that The Goodman Partnership gave to Standard Life and would pop in regularly to tell the team about any new products we were offering and simply to make sure they were happy with our service,” says Neil.
He was then offered a new role with an IFA near Maidstone.
“During my next visit to The Goodman Partnership, I told Keith Goodman I was leaving and he seemed disappointed to not have known that I was getting itchy feet,” says Neil. “So, I promised to keep in touch.”
Three years later, in 1993, Neil received a phone call from Keith.
“He jokingly told me that they were looking for another adviser and had drawn up a short list of one… but that person wasn’t available, so they’d decided to call me! I met up with Keith and the rest, as they say, is history,” says Neil, who has now been with The Goodman Partnership for 25 years, becoming a Partner in 1997.
Neil says that, from a professional point of view, becoming a Chartered Financial Planner and, in July 2010, becoming the first adviser in Kent to be awarded the Later Life Adviser Accreditation are his proudest achievements.
Neil is a full member of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) and an Affiliate of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), while he has also built considerable expertise in advising Trustees on suitable investment strategies.
“Having been involved with SOLLA since its early days, it’s been a pleasure to see the organisation become increasingly more recognised and highly respected,” he says. “I really enjoy the care funding work I get involved with. Our workload has also increased in retirement planning over the years, particularly with the change of legislation, as a result of ‘pension freedoms’.”
He continues: “In 2006, we made a decision to really focus on advising clients approaching and in retirement. Creating this niche has meant we are doing the type of work we are best at and that we most enjoy. We’ve also found ourselves increasingly working with solicitors, as what we offer has a natural fit with what their clients at 50-plus need.”
Neil says that, as demographics have changed, this was the right call.
“Generally, the majority of wealth in the UK lies with the over 50s and these are the people who need advice,” says Neil. “Younger people in their 20s and 30s are not able to save like they were in the past, instead they are paying off student loans and concerned with getting that first step onto the property ladder.”
As The Goodman Partnership’s longest-serving Partner, Neil says he’s extremely proud of the team he’s part of and, in terms of the future, he hopes the firm will continue with the progression it has made in recent years, offering the same excellent quality of service to clients.
“But, we never rest on our laurels and are always looking for ways we can improve,” he adds.
When he’s not at work, Neil enjoys music and tries to get to concerts when he can, as well as going to the theatre and getting out in the garden. He enjoys spending time with family and friends and likes watching sport, playing tennis and golf and sometimes cycling. Neil likes to travel and has a list of places that he would like to visit in the future.