The Jordan Belfort Phenomenon

February 2014

Jordan Belfort is not the first financial fraudster to turn infamy to his advantage and hit the speaker circuit.

Our tolerance and forebearance towards white collar criminals puzzles me.  His was not a victim-less crime.  He knowingly and deliberately commited securities fraud and money laundering activities and 1500 investors lost a total of more than $200m.

From recent media reports it would appear that he is currently in default of his restitution agreement to pay 50% of his income until the full debt of $110m is repaid.

Having earnt in excess of $1m for the movie rights of his book he’s reportedly only paid $21,000 in restitution in 2013.

Do we really have any indication of genuine contrition from this man?  Is this really someone that banks, real estate agents and insurance companies, among others, should be lauding on their stages to their audiences?

I’d like to see them stop and think about what messages they are giving their audiences and what this will then say to their customers and clients who will hear about this.

Do we just get caught up in the hype and glamour of someone being depicted on the screen by Leonardo di Caprio.  If de Caprio were to play the role of a convicted but supposedly contrite kidnapper, murderer or terrorist would we give them house-room.

I think we’re losing the plot.

I have no doubt there’s a curiousity and prurient interest in Belfort based on all the hype but is a business event the right place to satisfy a passing fascination for someone whose only desire was to become mega-rich through fraudulent , unethical and reprehensible behaviour?

Remember, what we do speaks far louder than what we say.