Wolf of Wall Street's Gold Coast AREC 2014 attendance continues to provoke debate

Wolf of Wall Street's Gold Coast AREC 2014 attendance continues to provoke debate
Wolf of Wall Street's Gold Coast AREC 2014 attendance continues to provoke debate

Set to present at next month's national real estate conference AREC 2014 on the Gold Coast is Jordan Belfort, the man behind the memoir and Martin Scorsese film The Wolf of Wall Street. It's the 17th year AREC has been running.

Three thousand attendees are expected, with bookings at the best in AREC history. Many will pay a standard ticket price of $995 as of 1 April, with some to pay an extra $295 on top for a Platinum Pass to the event.

The choice of Belfort as a speaker has been a decision that has split many members of the industry, with Ray White Cheltenham, Melbourne agent Peter Konidaris recently blogging that it's a "huge backwards step".

Here's what AREC 2014 is saying Belfort will be discussing in June:

Wolf of Wall Street's Gold Coast AREC 2014 attendance continues to provoke debate

Source: AREC/TRET speaker program

Releases about the event note that Belfort will undertake two life changing sessions, where he "will tell you how he made $49 million by 26 through building a sales empire, how he lost it and most importantly, how he transformed his life again.

"He will detail for over 3,000 delegates:The Art of Prospecting: 3 things that are holding you back; the 4 elements of the inner game; and The Art of straight light persuasion From Prison to Hollywood: Rehab, restitution and benevolence; and Behind the Wolf of Wall Street."

According to a quote from Belfort, he has been teaching his strategies, tools and tactics to agents around the world to enhance their businesses, get more listings and deliver great results, noting that success in the absence of ethics and integrity is actually a failure.

He will be speaking among other big real estate names, such as John McGrath, who was behind the decision to include Belfort, and Tom Panos.

But is the opinion that this is a "backwards step" held across the industry?

Malcolm Gunning, president of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales, said that they're of the opinion that the industry is mature enough to make their own judgements and individual agents will attend if they want to.

"We wouldn't endorse his business morality," he told Property Observer, "however, he is a person of interest [to many]."

He said that real estate agents may be able to learn about marketing techniques from Belfort and that as an institute they would be interested to hear the opinion of their members about the choice.

Meanwhile, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria has called it a "concern", noting that his behaviour does not align with the standards and values of the real estate industry, and can set a poor example to younger agents. They shared out yesterday's Property Observer story on their Facebook page.

Wolf of Wall Street's Gold Coast AREC 2014 attendance continues to provoke debate

Source: Facebook (image in post has been cropped)

The REIV explained that senior agents have expressed concerns, and that it's not a good look for the real estate profession.

While a spokesperson for the REIV said that it was a disappointing choice, they also noted that they support AREC as a whole and are not expecting them to pull the speaker with just days until the event starts. Rather, next time, they hope for more close vetting of who is chosen to present.

Consumer advocate Neil Jenman has been outspoken in his tweets against the decision.
Wolf of Wall Street's Gold Coast AREC 2014 attendance continues to provoke debate

John McGrath sent an email on behalf of TRET to their database, which said that rather than get caught up in the social media conversation he wanted to clarify his reasons behind the decision.

He provided the following points:

  • We engaged Jordan not because of his 'colourful past' but in many ways despite it.  I was not aware of the intricacies of his past life (but apparently the movie spells it out in graphic detail) other than he had fallen foul of the law in his business, served his time & reinvented his life.  Having learnt many great lessons myself from people who had once strayed from the right path & reinvented themselves I thought that was not a deal breaker.

  • A number of extremely successful salespeople I know (several I have worked with for many years) attended his training seminar a few years ago & declared it “the best sales training they have ever been to”.  So I viewed a clip of Jordan’s training online & agreed on two things.  First, he is a very skilled sales coach (also one of the best I had seen) & secondly, he had turned a corner & was living a new life of integrity, far removed from his dark past.

  • I believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to reinvent & redesign their life & get back on track.  I’m not sure I know anyone who hasn’t benefited from a second chance to correct their errors in judgement & get back on track – so I took that view & combined with his exceptional sales coaching ability invited him to present at AREC14.  

He said that it would be a minority of those who have never been off track, and those that come back "from the brink" can teach something of great value, including the reasons not to stray.

"At AREC14 Jordan Belfort will tell the story of how he was "born an entrepreneur" & loved making money as a child with a variety of ventures.   How he became a stockbroker & that everything his firm did was perfectly legal until he crossed over the ethics line.  And how once he crossed that line, it was hard to go back.  His presentation contains great lessons of integrity, ethics & how greed is destructive.  He will share how he lost everything (money, company, family & reputation) & about the tremendous remorse he has.  He will also share his prospecting techniques in a dedicated session based on his Straight Line coaching program.  I believe you will see that Jordan’s sales coaching is amongst the best in the world & more importantly that now he has an iron-clad commitment to integrity in everything he does," his email notes.

"Whilst Jordan’s involvement has caused much discussion, bookings are the best ever in AREC’s history so I’m delighted that the speaker line-up has overall met with such enthusiasm," he said.

Other real estate agents appear to be supportive, with Sam Elbanna of CPM Realty providing a supportive testimonial about Belfort's speaking events, noting "I firmly believe that if you are serious about sales, and are serious about making a change in your life, then you must attend Jordan Belfort’s seminar."

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra.

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