SEC Rule 506 in 2016: Advertising and Raising Money From Unaccredited Investors Explained

advertising-and-raising-money-from-unaccredited-investorsIn 2012, the JOBS Act amended the rules for private placement offerings (aka “PPMs”) to allow companies to advertise and solicit their offerings to prospective investors. Under prior law, a PPM could not be marketed or solicited to people whom the offeror did not have an existing relationship with.  Hence, the use of the word “private offering” in the labeling of these types of investments.

This new type of offering allows advertising and general solicitation and is known as a Rule 506 (c) Offering. Under Rule 506 (c), the company raising money could create a website soliciting the funds, or they could hold seminars or meetings with potential investors and could solicit the investment of funds from those in attendance. This is a significant change to the prior offering rules that clearly prohibit such activities.

Under the new Rule 506 (c) Offering there is one hitch: the person raising funds may only accept funds from accredited investors. An accredited investor is someone who has $200K in annual income ($300K if married) or $1M in net worth (excluding equity in home). The accredited investor status must be documented by the investor or certified by a third party such as an accountant or financial planner. This verification rule is a new requirement for Rule 506 (c) Offerings and is ALWAYS required if you make general solicitation and marketing efforts for investors.

Under the traditional Rule 506 offering, now known as Rule 506 (b), you may not make general solicitations for investors and that is the major downside. However, you may raise money from up to 35 unaccredited investors per offering and that is something you cannot do under the new Rule 506 (c). Keep in mind, the offering must remain private. So, moving forward, those seeking to raise money under Regulation D approved offerings have two options. First, raise money under the current rule and you can accept up to 35 unaccredited investors but are restricted from advertising. Or, second, only accept money from accredited investors but be allowed to advertise the offering. You don’t get both options in one (advertising and unaccredited investors) but at least you now have another option in being allowed to advertise and solicit under the new rules.

Here’s a quick chart the outlines the two Rule 506 Options. The key differences are highlighted below.

 

Rule 506 (b)Rule 506 (c)
 

Total Amount You Can Raise

 

UnlimitedUnlimited
Offering Docs Required

 

Offering Memorandum, Sec Form D Filing, State Securities Filing, Company LP or Operating Agreement, Investor Suitability Quest. 

Offering Memorandum, Sec Form D Filing, State Securities Filing, Company LP or Operating Agreement, Investor Suitability Quest.

 

Accredited Investors 

 

Un-limited accredited investors and up to 35 unaccredited investors who are sophisticated enough to invest.

 

Accredited investors only. Unlimited accredited investors. Must verify they are accredited.
Marketing of OfferingMust remain private. Can only market to persons with an existing relationship. 

 

Marketing and general solicitations are allowed. You amy market via websites, e-mail campaigns, and at events or meetings.

ADVERTISING NOW ALLOWED IN RAISING CAPITAL

The SEC’s final regulations implementing the JOBS Act  and allowing advertising in the raising of capital went into effect last week on September 23, 2013. This is a significant change in the laws relating to the raising of capital and is one that has been discussed and written about extensively. Prior to last week all raising of capital by real estate investors or small business owners needed to consist of private methods whereby the person raising capital could only talk to persons whom they knew or had a prior relationship with. They could not make a “solicitation” for investment from anyone else without having to go and do an extensive and costly public SEC Offering.

Under the new rules in effect last week, those raising capital may now make public solicitations to anyone and may make presentations at meetings or seminars, on websites, or through social media and they don’t have to work with people they know or have a prior existing relationship with.

In order to comply with the new rule, known as Rule 506 (c), those raising capital must create offering memorandum and legal documents in accordance with the new rules and must make a notice filing to the SEC to claim compliance with the new law. Additionally, the new advertising rules will only allow those raising  capital to accept funds from accredited investors. Accredited investors are those who have $1M net worth (excluding equity in residence) or $200K annual income single or $300K income married. The person raising capital must take steps to verify an accredited investors status and can’t just rely on the investor stating that they are accredited. While some offerings do allow for up to 35 unaccredited investors, the rule allowing for unaccredited investors cannot be applied when advertising has been used in the offering and as a result is not available under the new rule.