The Wealthy: Old Money

David C. Bentall

Age: 53
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.”