Accredited investor definition, under the Securities Act of 1933, a company that offers or sells its securities must register the securities with the SEC or find an exemption from the registration requirements. The Act provides companies with a number of exemptions. For some of the exemptions, such as rules 505 and 506 of Regulation D, a company may sell its securities to what are known as “accredited investors.”
The federal securities laws define the term accredited investor in Rule 501 of Regulation D as:
- a bank, insurance company, registered investment company, business development company, or small business investment company;
- an employee benefit plan, within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, if a bank, insurance company, or registered investment adviser makes the investment decisions, or if the plan has total assets in excess of $5 million;
- a charitable organization, corporation, or partnership with assets exceeding $5 million;
- a director, executive officer, or general partner of the company selling the securities;
- a business in which all the equity owners are accredited investors;
- a natural person who has individual net worth, or joint net worth with the person’s spouse, that exceeds $1 million at the time of the purchase, excluding the value of the primary residence of such person;
- a natural person with income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year; or
- a trust with assets in excess of $5 million, not formed to acquire the securities offered, whose purchases a sophisticated person makes.
For more information about the SEC’s registration requirements and common exemptions, read our brochure, Q&A: Small Business & the SEC.
What is an Accredited Investor
An accredited investor is a person or a business entity who is allowed to deal in securities that may not be registered with financial authorities. They are entitled to such privileged access if they satisfy one (or more) requirements regarding income, net worth, asset size, governance status or professional experience. In the U.S., the term is used by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under Regulation D to refer to investors who are financially sophisticated and have a reduced need for the protection provided by regulatory disclosure filings. Accredited investors include natural high net worth individuals (HNWI), banks, insurance companies, brokers and trusts.
ACCREDITED INVESTOR NEED TO KNOW:
An accredited investor is a person or entity who is allowed to deal, trade and invest in financial securities as long as they satisfy one (or more) requirements regarding income, net worth, asset size, governance status or professional experience.
Origins of ‘Accredited’ Investor
The term originates from the English word ‘accredited’ which literally means someone who has been given special authority or sanction if they meet certain recognized standards. Accredited investors are most popular for purchasing securities which are not registered with the regulatory authorities like the SEC. Since the capital raising exercise involves a complex and costly process including regulatory filings, many companies offer securities to the accredited investors directly. The companies are exempted from registering securities with the SEC which saves a lot of cost for them, and are allowed to sell the shares to qualified accredited investors. Participants in such types of private placements are at the risk of losing their entire investment, and therefore authorities need to ensure that they are financially stable, experienced and knowledgeable about their risky ventures.
The Bottom Line
Money can be put to best use only with suitable knowledge. It may be tempting for the super-riches to earn the coveted title of an accredited investor and have the opportunity to invest in non-registered investments which are provided by companies like private equity funds, hedge funds and venture capital firms. While hundreds of business ventures are eagerly awaiting capital funding from such accredited investors, it’s the individuals with deep pockets who need to remain aware about the high risks involved in such ventures. Qualifying criteria set by agencies like SEC are designed to ensure that only the right candidate or entities take the high risk-high reward path.
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