The world of investing is already diverse: all you must do is build a portfolio with a mix of asset classes, and you’re well on your way to meeting your financial goals… right? Maybe not. There are a multitude of new investment opportunities popping up, including many accredited investor opportunities.
Find out how to become an accredited investor (or qualified investor) and whether these opportunities might be for you.
Going Beyond Passive Investing
Many are content with a “lazy,” automated portfolio. However, some investors are seeking a way to go beyond the publicly available stocks and bonds. These investors crave more diversification and are willing to take greater financial risks in pursuit of higher returns.
In fact, a week doesn’t go by without a public relations expert pitching the newest fintech investment!
- What are Accredited Investors?
- What are the Benefits of Being an Accredited Investor?
- Accredited Investor Opportunities
- 1. Diversyfund – Invest in Rental Properties and More
- 2. EquityMultiple – Commercial Real Estate Investments
- 3. Groundfloor – Invest in Real Estate Debt
- 4. FarmTogether – Invest in Farmland
- 5. Crowdstreet
- 5. PeerStreet – Invest in Real Estate Debt
- 6. SeedInvest – Invest in Startups
- 7. FundersClub – Invest in Startups
- Pros and Cons of Accredited Investing
- Accredited Investing Sites Wrap Up
This article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link.
If you want to go beyond public stock and bond exchanges there’s a way to gain access to diverse, private investment opportunities and to become an accredited investor. To find out if you qualify and to learn about some niche investment opportunities, read on!
What are Accredited Investors?
Accredited investors are individuals who have more investment opportunities than your average investor.
Due to their assets or income level, accredited investors can make “private placement” investments, which are investments available only to investors who have been pre-selected; these private placement investments are not available to the general public. Private placement investments don’t trade publicly, like stocks on the NYSE or Nasdaq, but in private markets.
What gives accredited investors this special designation is a combination of two key features: their perceived knowledge about riskier transactions, and their net worth and/or income.
The reason that these wealthier investors “qualify” for certain investments is because they can afford to lose money, without destroying their entire finances. Also, these wealthier individuals are expected to be able to understand the risks involved in private placements, startups, and crowdfunding offers.
Accredited Investor Qualifications
Historically, one could only become an accredited investor if one of the following criteria was met:
- Have an annual income over $200,000 for the past two years, or $300,000 in joint income if married; you must also reasonably be able to predict a similar income in the current year.
- Have a net worth greater than $1 million; this amount stays the same for both an individual and a couple. Primary residences are not included in this total.
- Be a private business or other organization with assets greater than $5 million or have accredited investors as equity owners.
New Category of Accredited Investors
There may be good news for those who want to become accredited investors but do not yet meet the above income or net worth qualifications.
The qualifications to become an accredited investor have recently been loosened. The Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, amended the requirements in August 2020. Now, a greater range of people can invest in private placement investments.
The new category of accredited investors is updated on the SEC website and includes certifications like licensed securities representatives (Series 7) and licensed investment advisors (Series 65). Knowledgeable employees also qualify as accredited investors. Additional members include family offices, registered investment advisors, and several related classes.
Even under these new regulations, accredited investors must still be deemed knowledgeable enough to understand and accept the risk of investing in a private placement.
What are the Benefits of Being an Accredited Investor?
Accredited investors have access to many types of available investments, not readily available in the public markets.
Greater Portfolio Diversity
Your non-accredited peers are limited in their investments; they can only invest in what is available on the public market. Accredited investors, on the other hand, can diversify their portfolios with unique offerings that are unavailable to the general public. These investments are also not generally regulated by SEC, so they may offer more unique investing opportunities than those available on the open market.
These are generally considered speculative investments.
(Potential for) Higher Returns
Since private placements are so selective about their investors, they are often able to offer higher yields, along with requiring greater minimums. These investments might include higher yield (and higher risk) opportunities, like real estate and venture capital funds.
Investing With Your Values
Although there are socially-responsible investment options available to the general public, accredited investors can take it one step further by investing in start-up businesses. Whether you’re simply excited to support developing businesses, or specifically target businesses in a niche you care about, there are bound to be accredited investor-only opportunities available.
Accredited Investor Opportunities
The following seven opportunities offer a glimpse into several unique platforms at a range of price points.
Bonus: some of these opportunities are available to non-accredited investors as well!
1. Diversyfund – Invest in Rental Properties and More
Accredited and non-accredited investors.
This platform offers investors a way to invest in the real estate market without requiring the massive up-front costs and potential on-going headaches associated with purchasing rental or “fixer-upper” flipping properties. This is a crowdfunding platform, so initial investments are more than reasonable. Diversyfund buys, renovates and resells apartment buildings. Essentially, Diversityfund lets you reap the benefits of rental properties without any of the work required of a landlord.
2. EquityMultiple – Commercial Real Estate Investments
Like Diversyfund, EquityMultiple is a crowdfunded real estate opportunity; however, they offer a wide range of commercial, industrial, and residential investments across the country. EquityMultiple offers investors, debt and equity investments. The $10,000 minimum is much cheaper than buying a rental property outright. They also offer Opportunity Zone investments, which offer investors tax benefits in exchange for investing in underinvested communities.
3. Groundfloor – Invest in Real Estate Debt
Accredited and non-accredited investors.
Investors who are interested in investing in real estate debt will find Groundfloor appealing. As opposed to purchasing and managing properties outright, Groundfloor clients put money directly into mortgage notes. Rather than using a traditional bank, would-be borrowers apply for a loan through Groundfloor; these borrowers are ranked according to their riskiness, and investors can choose what level of risk they feel comfortable with. Groundfloor reports an average 10% returns on 6-12 month terms, though the riskiest loans can yield up to 26%.
Groundfloor also offers the opportunity to receive your initial investment returned within 2 years. A much shorter “lock up” period than competitors.
4. FarmTogether – Invest in Farmland
is exactly what it sounds like: an investment platform that lets you invest in agriculture. If you’re looking for a way to diversify your portfolio, this just might be it. The team responsible for choosing properties at FarmTogether aims for opportunities they believe can produce 7-13% returns. Investing in farmland, provides a unique diversification opportunity for qualified investors.
Crowdstreet is akin to a real estate super market of institutional-quality investments. The platform won the 2022 Investopedia award for the best overall crowdfunding site. The platform also offers online tools to manage the investments. Investors have committed more than $2.8 billion in over 580 projects. The types of investment opportunities at Crowdstreet include individual deals like hotels, apartments and commercial real estate. Crowdstreet also offers private equity real estate funds, like REITs; Rainbow Cannabis Fund II and the Growth Market Multifamily fund. Investors willing to commit more than $250,000, can have Crowdstreet create a custom investment strategy with ongoing management.
5. PeerStreet – Invest in Real Estate Debt
When you invest with PeerStreet, your money funds real estate loans nationwide. This platform offers fixed income returns and flexible terms, which gives investors an opportunity to customize their investments as they diversify their portfolios. Essentially, investors are replacing a traditional bank in the mortgage process; investors put money toward a borrower’s loan, then earn money on their investments as borrowers pay that money back with interest. Investors can customize their loan portfolio and apply this minimum to multiple properties.
6. SeedInvest – Invest in Startups
If you like the thrill of investing in startups, SeedInvest is for you. They offer startups in a wide range of fields, from high-tech companies to healthcare. SeedInvest heavily vets all startups that apply, and they accept only approximately 1% of companies. Unlike the previous investments, SeedInvest isn’t backed by real property. In addition to available investments, they also list upcoming startups so that investors can keep their eyes on the market as it develops.
7. FundersClub – Invest in Startups
FundersClub offers venture capital investments. They vet all startups carefully, and they fund less than 2%; this makes the offerings quite competitive. Something unique FundersClub offers is the ability to get involved with the companies you are funding; far from passive investing, clients can actually get involved in hiring, networking, and even sharing expertise with the startups they have funded. Clients can start investing with $3,000 for single-company funds, or $10,000 for multi-company funds.
Pros and Cons of Accredited Investing
There are many appealing benefits to the unique investments available to accredited investors, but there are also disadvantages. Weighing these pros and cons all boils down to whether you are willing to take risks for potential high-return investments.
- Potential for high returns, particularly on higher-risk investments
- Avoiding the stock market through private placement investments
- Increased portfolio diversity
- Higher risk investments
- Many lack SEC regulation, requires greater due diligence
- Minimum investments tend to be more expensive
- Potential for additional tax-time considerations
- Investments tend to be illiquid and tie up your money for several years
Accredited Investing Sites Wrap Up
There is a lot to be said for the benefits of becoming an accredited investor and private placement opportunities. There’s the thrill of possibility high returns on investment in exchange for greater risk; these investments also boost portfolio diversification by giving accredited investors access to opportunities few others have.
The diversification might counteract loses should the stock market decline.
There is also the chance that accredited investors will have a chance to buy private placements that do not have the same volatility as the stock market. On the other hand, if a business or real estate loan fails, you might lose a large portion of your financial commitment.
Accredited investors must do their own due diligence, because the SEC regulations might not apply.
Accredited investors will also need to ensure that their private placement investments are reported correctly come tax season.
Finally, accredited investors will typically, although not always, need to make larger minimum investments than they would with more traditional investments.
These risks are exactly why private placements are limited to accredited investors. This class of investors is assumed to have enough knowledge to make informed decisions about riskier investments. They also possess the capital to take a large loss if an investment goes awry.
Regardless of whether you’re an accredited investor or not, a well-rounded portfolio is one of the best ways to mitigate risk. The seven sites discussed above are just a few of the many ways accredited investors can diversify their portfolios and increase their chances of building wealth.
At present, a qualified investor is the same as an accredited investor. They both need to meet income, net worth, or investment qualifications.
One qualification to become an accredited investor, you must earn more than $200,000 or $300,000 if filing a joint tax return. So, you could get a high paying job and become an accredited investor. Or, you can save, invest, and grow your net worth to become a millionaire. Or, you can study and take the series 7 securities license test and work in in the financial industry.
You can invest in private placements and a wide variety of startups, crowdfunding and other businesses that aren’t registered with the SEC. But, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Accredited investments are speculative and aren’t suitable for conservative investors.
The Financial Planning Process – Steps to Wealth
7 Steps to Becoming a Millionaire – at Any Age
How to Calculate Net Worth – What are You Worth?
FarmTogether vs Acretrader – Invest in Farmland
Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t personally believe is valuable.