An SEC committee urged the agency Tuesday to qualify as accredit investors any professionals who have passed the Finra Series 7 broker-dealer exam and Series 65 exam for state-registered investment advisors.
The commission’s Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies also said individuals should be allowed to buy private funds and securities if they have achieved a Certified Financial Analyst designation or a similar designation or passed Finra’s Series 82 test for private offerings representatives.
But at the same time, there’s no urgent need to change the accredited investor definition, said committee co-chair Stephen Graham.
Both Graham’s unit and the SEC Investor Advisory Committee have voted that there ought to be a way for sophisticated investors to qualify as accredited investors without regard to net worth or income, as a recent SEC staff study concluded.
“There’s more agreement between us than one might expect,” said Barbara Roper, chair of the Investor Advisory Committee’s Investor As Purchaser Subcommittee.
However, Graham said his subcommittee members feel there is no need to raise the income thresholds for accredited investors. Roper’s committee members think there is.
Currently, accredited investors are considered to be those with certain income thresholds--$200,000 a year for an individual or $300,000 a year for a couple, with a net worth of at least $1 million. Graham said the IAC thinks the thresholds should be raised to promote investor protection, but he said there is no evidence the current limit puts investors at risk.
The limits were established in 1982. The small business advisory committee said inflation adjustments should be allowed.
At the advisory committee session, SEC Commissioner Kara Stein, a Democrat, said there are competing needs between companies trying to raise money and investors trying to protect themselves.
On Tuesday, SEC Chair White told the small business advisory committee the agency is very focused on the accredited investor definition. She added that her staff is developing recommendations.