Articles Tagged with Accredited Investor

In a closely-watched move, the SEC voted 3-2 this past Wednesday to expand the definition of an “accredited investor” to include both state-registered and SEC-registered investment advisers with $5 million or more in assets. Accredited investors are those who are permitted to purchase unregistered securities such as those typically sold in a private placement. The current definition includes individuals or married couples with $1 million or more in investments and individuals with $200,000 in annual income or total income with a spouse of $300,000.

Also added to the definition are individuals who hold Series 7, 65, and 82 licenses. Those correspond to examinations for the general securities agent or representative, the investment adviser representative, and the private placement agent, respectively. “Knowledgeable employees” of a private fund are now also accredited investors. In addition to the new categories included, the Commission established a framework whereby additional categories of sophisticated investors can be added to the definition over time.

The Commission also voted not to adjust upward for inflation, the traditional wealth-based definition of “accredited investor.” The issue exposes a fundamental debate about the adequacies of protections that currently exist in the private securities market, as well as issues of class-based access to markets.

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Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”), the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) must review the definition of “accredited investor” every four years to determine whether it needs to be modified or adjusted. The SEC staff recently conducted its first review and issued a Report on the Review of the Definition of “Accredited Investor.”

The report provides an in-depth examination of the history of the “accredited investor” definition and discusses possible alternative approaches. The report also responds to comments on the existing definition received from various financial services industry participants, including the Investor Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies. Lastly, the report provides recommendations for potential updates and/or modifications to the existing definition.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released Final Rule No. IA – 3372 which changes the qualifications for advisers who charge performance fees. We discussed the proposed amendment to the rule in a previous blog post, Performance Based Fee Threshold Increase Sought by SEC in Proposed Order. These amendments are required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and will take effect 90 days after publication in the Federal Register, which is anticipated shortly. Until then advisers can rely on the grandfather provisions.

While advisers are generally unable to accept performance fees, there are exceptions. For example under certain circumstances, a client may become a “qualified client,” under Rule 205-3, meaning he or she is deemed to be capable of bearing the risks associated with performance fee arrangements. Under the new rule, an adviser may charge performance fees to “qualified clients” who have at least $1 million of assets under management for that definition to apply. Under the previous rule, $750,000 in assets were required to be under management. Also, the net worth of an investor may also be a qualification for an exception. The amended rule raises the minimum net worth standard for qualified clients from $1 million to $2 million. (The other “qualified client” basis includes clients who immediately before entering the advisory contract are either executive officers, directors, trustees, general partners of the adviser or employees of the adviser and who have participated in the adviser’s investment activities for at least twelve months. This definition has not changed with the amendment.)
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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has adopted a new rule that redefines the standard for “accredited” investors. Required by the Dodd-Frank legislation enacted in 2010, the accredited investor standard is intended to protect less sophisticated investors in less regulated investments. The rule change, which eliminates an investor’s principal residence from consideration in determining accredited status, may dramatically affect whether some potential investors remain eligible for Regulation D offerings.

Most of the accredited investor qualification criteria remain the same, but the net worth criteria has changed. In order to qualify as an accredited investor, the qualifying net worth amount remains $1,000,000; however, the value of the investor’s principal residence must now be excluded from the calculation of the investor’s assets. In addition, subject to some exceptions, the amount of the mortgage debt on the principal residence is also excluded from the investor’s liability calculation. The overall purpose of the changes is to insure that accredited investor status is determined without regard to the value of any equity in the principal residence.
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