David Macadam makes a living out of an industry that encourages people to spend their money. Now working as chief executive for a body which works with Middle East malls and retailers, he arrived in Dubai on April 1, 2004. Initially working as general manager, head of revenue and leasing at Dubai Festival City, he moved on in 2007, becoming executive vice president at Emaar with responsibilities to lease and open The Dubai Mall in cooperation with a team. He then spent a spell as chief operating officer at Better Homes before the property market crash, and joined Jones Lang LaSalle as regional director for Mena before becoming the chief executive and vice chairman for the Middle East and North Africa region of the International Council of Shopping Centres and the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres earlier this year.
qAre you a spender or a saver?
aI am a saver but that is because of my age and stage in life. My children are in their late 20s and early 30s, so as empty nesters the only thing that we invest or spend on is our living day to day. The rest we save.
What is your philosophy regarding money?
Money is something which is a measure of your success and something you can use to enjoy and enhance your living. I spend our money on things like golf or activities instead of products. The whole thing is when you are younger, you are spending your money on household formation and consumables. When you get to my age and stage you are spending your money on life experiences. That’s the difference.
Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?
Of course, we all have. It was many years ago. The challenges that I ran into when I was in my 20s was I had too much debt and not enough equity and then the interest rates [for mortgages] at that time went to 23 per cent per year – 23 per cent on a mortgage was a very difficult thing. [We had just taken the mortgage out] fairly recently. It was around 13 per cent when we started and went to 23 per cent. That was in the early 1980s. I just worked harder and all your money went to paying interest. [It lasted] too long, but I think it was over a period of around two years and then what happened was interest rates started to fall and then everybody could breathe easier. It was quite exciting.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
You must. Think long term, so any investments you make isn’t for a quick return. It is for long term. Over the years some of the acquisitions in real estate and stock have worked well.
Is money important to you? If so, why?
Money is important... for your comfort and your lifestyle and to provide you [the ability] to afford life experiences.
What is your idea of financial freedom?
To do what you want, when you want and how you want. [I am] closer but I don’t think anyone ever is there. Even if you are a gazillionaire you are always never quite there.
What do you enjoy spending your money on?
My family and experiences.