Arvin Samadabadi

August 4, 2023

Changes in the Accredited Investor Criteria: New Way of Knowledge-Based Eligibility

Changes in Accredited Investor Criteria: New Way of Knowledge-Based Eligibility

The financial world is on the brink of significant transformations, with the definition of an "accredited investor" poised to undergo noteworthy changes. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposes these amendments, with objectives that encompass broadening the investment opportunities participation scope and escalating the financial eligibility benchmarks.

Current Definition of an Accredited Investor

At present, an accredited investor is characterized as:

  1. An individual possessing a net worth of $1 million, excluding their primary residence.
  2. An individual who has generated $200,000 in the past two years with a reasonable expectation of maintaining this income in the current year.
  3. If pooling finances with a spouse, the income requisite escalates to $300,000.

Proposed Changes to Financial Eligibility

The SEC plans to heighten these limits. While speculation about the new limit reaching $10 million is rife, an inflation-adjusted estimate since the 1982 original limit proposes a more realistic threshold of around $3 million. This proposed increase could potentially diminish the number of individuals qualifying as accredited investors based on net worth.

A New Pathway to Accredited Status: Financial Knowledge

However, the SEC is simultaneously initiating a new pathway to accredited status, this one associated with financial knowledge, rather than wealth. A newly passed rule allows non-accredited investors to attain accredited investor status via passing an exam administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The test evaluates an investor's level of sophistication and comprehension of securities laws and investment risks.

The FINRA exam encompasses a variety of topics, such as:

  • Reading basic financial statements
  • Understanding different types of securities
  • Comprehending securities laws' disclosure requirements
  • Grasping specific risks unregistered securities pose, like limited liquidity, leverage, and concentration risks

This examination will require dedicated preparation and understanding of investing complexities.

The Preexisting Pathway: The Series 65 Exam

The Preexisting Pathway: The Series 65 Exam

Interestingly, a parallel pathway currently exists - The Series 65 exam, qualifying someone as an investment advisor, can secure accredited investor status even without meeting the financial requirements. Nonetheless, state registration and a valid license are mandatory.

Dual Pathway to Accredited Status

These shifts will generate a dual pathway to accredited status:

  1. Investors qualifying based on financial qualifications, set to become stricter.
  2. Investors qualifying by passing the FINRA exam.

This bifurcation signifies that financial capability will no longer constrain the capacity to invest in exclusive, high-return private placements typically reserved for accredited investors.



The terrain of accredited investing is evolving towards a knowledge-based qualification, emphasizing a clear shift. This dual pathway strategy could democratize investment opportunities access, allowing a more comprehensive range of individuals to participate in the financial market, irrespective of their net worth. As these changes transpire, the reshaping impact on the investment world will be intriguing to observe.


  1. What is the current definition of an accredited investor?An accredited investor is an individual with a net worth of $1 million, excluding their primary residence, or those who have earned $200,000 in the last two years with a reasonable expectation of earning the same in the current year. If combined with a spouse, the income requirement rises to $300,000.
  2. What are the proposed changes to the financial eligibility of accredited investors?The SEC proposes to raise the net worth limit to potentially around $3 million, adjusted for inflation since the 1982 original limit.
  3. What is the new pathway to becoming an accredited investor?The SEC has introduced a new pathway based on financial knowledge. Non-accredited investors can now qualify as accredited investors by passing a FINRA exam that tests understanding of securities laws and investment risks.
  4. How is the dual pathway to accredited status created?Investors can now qualify as accredited investors either based on financial qualifications or by passing the FINRA exam, creating a dual pathway to accredited status.
  5. What is the impact of these changes on the investing world?The changes could democratize access to investment opportunities, allowing a broader range of individuals to participate in the financial market, regardless of their net worth. The shift towards knowledge-based qualification also indicates an evolving landscape of accredited investing.

Resource: Mauricio Rauld

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