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SEC Alters Rules for Accredited Investors—Do You Qualify Now?

Mindy Jensen
2 min read
SEC Alters Rules for Accredited Investors—Do You Qualify Now?

On August 26, the SEC changed the rules surrounding what constitutes an accredited investor.

Previously, to get the accredited investor designation, you needed to have $1 million in net worth (not including your primary residence) or an annual income of $200,000 ($300,000 if filing jointly) for the last two years, with a reasonable expectation for the same or higher income in the current year. The SEC’s new amendments now allow educated and/or experienced investors to bypass the income/net worth requirements and instead test into accreditation. These amendments also broaden the types of entities that can qualify as an accredited investor.

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“Today’s amendments are the product of years of effort by the Commission and its staff to consider and analyze approaches to revising the accredited investor definition,” said Chairman Jay Clayton. “For the first time, individuals will be permitted to participate in our private capital markets not only based on their income or net worth, but also based on established, clear measures of financial sophistication. I am also pleased that we have expanded and updated the list of entities, including tribal governments and other organizations, that may qualify to participate in certain private offerings.”

small businessman looking way up at his big boss

Do You Qualify as an Accredited Investor?

Until this change, you had to have money in order to invest as an accredited investor, leaving many educated and experienced people who were a bit short on funds out of the running. But now, if you can prove you understand what you’re doing, you can get in on those bigger deals.

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BUT should you? That is the million-dollar question.

How experienced are you? How much education do you really have?

The original requirements were in place so people didn’t lose their shirt on a fast-talking, snake-oil salesman’s garbage product or deal. In light of the eased requirements, investors should proceed with (even more) caution.

Should You Take Advantage of the Changes?

Close up portrait of exhausted frustrated stressed handsome sad unhappy upset entrepreneur trying to take off uncomfortable blue tie formal wear isolated on gray background copy-space

My friend Jake is not an accredited investor by the old requirements. He’s close—but not there yet. So he’s missed out on a few pretty amazing deals.

But his experience level and education (and risk tolerance) is far greater than someone who has lucked into a great investment and passively grown his or her net worth to qualifying status. If Jake were asking me if he should take advantage of this new amendment, I’d say “YES” as fast as I could.

Jake is precisely the person who should be taking advantage of this amendment. I’d even go so far as to say he’s precisely the person this amendment was written for.

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Here’s Who Should Not

This new amendment talks about testing into the program. If you have to study for this test, this amendment was not written with you in mind. You should be able to test in with flying colors in order to get your accredited investor status. And if you take the test and do not pass, work on your education and experience rather than focusing on passing the test.

This is an excellent addition to the SEC rules—for certain people and entities. But don’t get in over your head simply because you want to invest in these deals. They will be around when you’re ready.

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Questions? Comments? Will you take advantage of these changes?

Join the discussion below.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.