Old, New and Immigrant Wealth

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Vancouver's Wealthy: The Old Money

David C. Bentall

Children: Three daughters, one son
Cars: Jag (S Type) and Ford Escape Hybrid
Property: Home in Kerrisdale; co-ownership of summer property in Howe Sound
Gadget: BlackBerry
Hobby: Competitive water-skiing

When David C. Bentall’s kids were growing up (they’re now aged 27, 25, 23 and 17), they were given three jars each for their allowance: “One jar was for spending money, one jar was for savings and one jar was for giving,” recalls the 53-year-old founder of Next Step Advisors Inc. and former president of Dominion Construction Inc., which was founded by his grandfather Charles Bentall. Every dollar was to be divided: “Ten cents had to go into the giving jar, 10 cents into the saving jar and 80 cents they could do what they wanted with.” Although Bentall himself went to the public Magee Secondary School, he sent his son to St. George’s and his daughters to Crofton House.

Each child can count on a down payment for a house when they turn 30 or when they get married – whichever comes sooner. There is a family trust fund as well as other money available for his heirs, says Bentall, but they will not have access to it until they are much older and established. As for himself, Bentall insists he eschews extravagance. The 2006 TrueWealth Report, which included Bentall in its survey of high-net-worth Canadians, found that 90 per cent had art collections – but Bentall counts himself among the other 10 per cent. He’s a sports fan, preferring a hockey game to a symphony concert. “Our two biggest priorities are charity and travel,” he says, noting that he and his wife, Alison, support UBC’s Business Families Centre, St. George’s School and Hope International Development Agency, among other organizations. Travel these days tends to revolve around his hobby as a competitive water-skier, which has taken him as far as South Africa, but generally, he says, “we have not been world travellers.”

When he shops for clothes, Bentall says, he’s all about the service, frequenting Madison Men’s Wear Ltd. on West Pender, where he sometimes runs into Premier Gordon Campbell. “How they hooked me is that I needed some pants taken in,” he recalls. “I popped in and asked, ‘What do you charge for alterations?’ They said, ‘Nothing. Just think about us when you need something new.’” If a business wants to attract him, he says, the bottom line is “personalized service, tailor-made solutions, empathetic listening and anything that will save me time.”

Vancouver's Wealthy: The New Money

Claire Lamont and Alan Bedingfeld

Age: Both 30
Children: None
Cars: One Mini Cooper
Property: Loft at Main and 1st
Gadget: iPods
Last holiday: Vegas ("for the restaurants and cocktail lounges")

Self-confessed “partners in crime and business,” Claire Lamont and Alan Bedingfeld are the founders of Smak PR, a Vancouver-based agency with a focus on viral and guerrilla marketing tactics that, they say, has seen 50 per cent annual growth since its inception in 2003 and now brings in over $3 million in annual revenues. That may not qualify them for multimillionaire status, and they won’t reveal their personal salaries, but with no kids and little taste for big luxuries, they have plenty of disposable income to play with. They are also the quintessential cool kids and could have stepped right out of the pages of a marketing textbook describing the Young Urban Professional: university-educated and socially aware, living in a hip, up-and-coming neighbourhood and sporting the latest designer clothes and consumer electronics.

The pair share one car – a fuel-economical Mini Cooper – for environmental reasons and are committed to ensuring they have one pro bono marketing campaign for a charity going at all times. But they’re also not committed to any one cause; Bedingfeld’s 2008 New Year’s resolution was to contribute something to every person who asked for a charitable donation. (He modestly refuses to speculate how much he has contributed to date.) When it comes to clothing and home accessories, they’re all about local, independent boutiques such as Kitsilano’s pricey Moulé and Main Street’s Barefoot Contessa. “If I go into Holt Renfrew,” remarks Lamont who, like Bedingfeld, favours jeans and casual but stylish attire, “I don’t fit the mould of the 40-year-old affluent woman who’s carrying a small animal under one arm, and no one will talk to me. Put wads of cash in my back pocket and they can smell it, and they’ll give me personalized service until I’m blue in the face, but it’s not real.”

When dining out, which they do “five nights a week,” according to Lamont, they gravitate to hip, independent joints such as Bin 941 Tapas Parlour and Chambar Belgian Restaurant. “We’re not into the white-glove service,” insists Bedingfeld. “Give me a cool room that has great service – people who are genuinely happy to be there and who are willing to tell you, ‘The salmon sucks, so get a burger instead.’
 

Vancouver's Wealthy: The Immigrant Money

Thomas Fung

Age: 57
Children: One son
Cars: Maserati, Bentley and Lexus
Property: One home near UBC
Gadget: BlackBerry
Hobby: Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more in touch with the needs and desires of the Lower Mainland’s Asian immigrant population than Thomas Fung. Fung is chairman and founder of the Fairchild Group, a $350-million business conglomerate with holdings in Chinese-language media, telecommunications, trade, retail and real estate development.

Among his key assets is the acclaimed Asian-oriented Aberdeen Centre in Richmond. Ask him to name the spending priorities of wealthy Asian immigrants and he doesn’t hesitate: “Children’s education, food and travel. Food is always a big item for people from Asia.” Asians, he says – particularly the wealthy Chinese – enjoy restaurants and are open to spending money for good food. Globetrotting Asians, he adds, are style-conscious and brand aware and many prefer to do their shopping overseas. “If they are wealthy enough, they travel to buy fashions from Europe or Hong Kong and Japan. . . . They will even go to L.A. to shop for fashions instead of buying from Vancouver.”

While wealthy Asian Vancouverites may go abroad for fashion, they spend – and spend big – on cars and home furnishings here at home. They also like to hunt for deals, according to Fung: “They count every penny, even though they are rich. It is part of the fun of shopping; if they find somewhere with the same type of product with a better price than another shop, they can kind of brag about it.” Among the top priorities is having the newest and trendiest gadget, “the latest cellular phones and cameras – even if they don’t know or understand how to operate it,” he notes. “They just want them to be seen to be high tech and trendy. Relatively, they don’t put much investment inside a house, because they would rather invest and buy something that can be seen: the car, the fashion, the camera, cellphones, beauty, skincare, things like that.” Fung himself tends to eschew such extravagance, with his major indulgence (other than three luxury cars) being restaurants.

The Hong Kong immigrant, who came to Vancouver in 1967, has cultivated a particular taste for high-end Italian food and says he can’t get enough of the cooking of Cioppino’s chef Pino Posteraro. “I brought him to our house and he taught my wife how to do pasta,” he says.



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