By Joshua Burd
Organizers of the country’s largest private lending conference have unveiled a slate of changes and key additions to this year’s program, including a presentation by the forensic accounting investigator who uncovered Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Slated for March 25 to 27 at the Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne, Florida, the Pitbull Conference is marking its 57th year but the first under the ownership of Private Lender Law, an affiliate practice of Marlboro-based LaRocca Hornik Rosen & Greenberg LLP. The firm last week announced a revamp of the program, adding new networking sessions and educational opportunities.
Harry Markopolos, the whistleblower in the Madoff case, will speak at the conference and discuss fraud in the industry, according to a news release. Chris Porter of John Burns Real Estate Consulting will provide a presentation on the state of the market, while there will be panels on capital markets, direct lending and service spaces.
“The redesign of the conference agenda comes from feedback from a lot of people in the space — private lenders, sponsors, brokers and real estate investors — those who want to do business,” said Jonathan L. Hornik, who leads Private Lender Law. “To do that, you have to create the right environment. People come to conferences to meet others who will help and improve their business opportunities, and the only way they’ll meet them is if they’re all in the same place at the same time. We want to fill the conference hall with people who want to make deals.”
Private Lender Law announced its acquisition of the conference platform and the affiliated trade group, the National Private Lenders Association, last fall. Last week, Hornik said Pitbull Conference has historically traveled to different locales throughout the U.S., but is returning to Florida because of the state’s active private lending market.
“Florida is a state where there are a lot of deals to be done, so we selected it strategically,” Hornik said. “There are a lot of transactions in Florida, and the state is currently undergoing a housing shortage, which creates opportunities for those who attend Pitbull Conference. There’s a lot of private lending action in this region.”
After Pitbull Conference wraps up each day, Hornik said there will be plenty of opportunities to network and continue conversations at cocktail parties and an all-inclusive afterparty at El Tucán in Miami.
“Attendees can expect to meet and learn from top professionals in the private lending space, including aggregators, investors, originators, direct lenders, service providers, borrowers and brokers,” Hornik said. “Everybody attending is looking to see what’s going on in the space and open their eyes to new possibilities. When you’re talking to like-minded colleagues within your space, you can learn, and that’s the point.”