Accredited investor is a term defined by various securities laws that delineates investors permitted to invest in certain types of higher risk investments including seed money, limited partnerships, hedge funds, and angel investor networks. The term generally includes wealthy individuals and organizations such as a corporation, endowment, or retirement plans.
In the United States, for an individual to be considered an accredited investor, they must have a net worth of at least one million US dollars not including the value of one's residence or have made at least $200,000 each year for the last two years ($300,000 with his or her spouse if married) and have the expectation to make the same amount this year." This rule came into effect in 1933 by way of the Securities Act of 1933.
"The federal securities laws define the term accredited investor in Rule 501 of Regulation D and as amended by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act 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 their primary residence;
- 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."
Proposed new accredited investor class for hedge funds
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has considered a change to the definition of "accredited investor" to create a new class of potential investors: "accredited natural persons". The proposed changes would stipulate that an "accredited natural person" must be both "accredited investors" under the existing standards and also own not less than $2.5 million in investments (as currently defined in the Investment Company Act for purposes of the Section 3(c)(7) exemption) on the date an investment is made. The $2.5 million test will be periodically adjusted for inflation.
An "Accredited Investor" (as defined in NI 45 106) is:
- a person registered under the securities legislation of a jurisdiction of Canada, as an adviser or dealer, other than a person registered solely as a limited market dealer under one or both of the Securities Act (Ontario) or the Securities Act (Newfoundland and Labrador); or
- an individual registered or formerly registered under the securities legislation of a jurisdiction of Canada as a representative of a person referred to in paragraph (a); or
- an individual who, either alone or with a spouse, beneficially owns financial assets having an aggregate realizable value that before taxes, but net of any related liabilities, exceeds $1,000,000; or
- an individual whose net income before taxes exceeded $200,000 in each of the two most recent calendar years or whose net income before taxes combined with that of a spouse exceeded $300,000 in each of the two most recent calendar years and who, in either case, reasonably expects to exceed that net income level in the current calendar year; or
- an individual who, either alone or with a spouse, has net assets of at least $5,000,000; or
- a person, other than an individual or investment fund, that has net assets of at least $5,000,000 as shown on its most recently prepared financial statements; or
- a trust company or trust corporation registered or authorized to carry on business under the Trust and Loan Companies Act (Canada) or under comparable legislation in a jurisdiction of Canada or a foreign jurisdiction, acting on behalf of a fully managed account managed by the trust company or trust corporation, as the case may be; or
- an investment fund that distributes or has distributed its securities only to (i) a person that is or was an accredited investor at the time of the distribution, (ii) a person that acquires or acquired securities in the circumstances referred to in sections 2.10 of NI 45 106 [Minimum amount investment] or 2.19 of NI 45 106 [Additional investment in investment funds], or (iii) a person described in paragraph (i) or (ii) that acquires or acquired securities under section 2.18 of NI 45 106 [Investment fund reinvestment];
- a person acting on behalf of a fully managed account managed by that person, if that person is registered or authorized to carry on business as an adviser or the equivalent under the securities legislation of a jurisdiction of Canada or a foreign jurisdiction; or
- a person in respect of which all of the owners of interests, direct, indirect or beneficial, except the voting securities required by law to be owned by directors, are persons that are accredited investors (as defined in NI 45 106); or
- an investment fund that is advised by a person registered as an adviser or a person that is exempt from registration as an adviser.
Retail clients requesting treatment as 'elective' professional clients (as defined by Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID)) must satisfy at least two of the following quantitative criteria in assessing the client's expertise, experience and knowledge:
- the client has carried out transactions, in significant size (at least EUR 50,000), on the relevant market at an average frequency of 10 per quarter over the previous four quarters;
- the size of the client's financial instrument portfolio, defined as including cash deposits and financial instruments, exceeds EUR 500,000;
- the client works or has worked in the financial sector for at least one year in a professional position which requires knowledge of the transactions or services envisaged.
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