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Who is an Accredited Investor? Demystifying the Concept

Have you come across investment opportunities open only to accredited investors? Do you wonder what the term means and whether you qualify? If so, read on to understand this important concept.

A Special Class of Investors

An accredited investor refers to a person or entity that is allowed to participate in certain investments. This opportunity is not open to those categorized as regular investors. These are as follows:

They have to meet defined income and net worth thresholds set by financial regulators. Apparently, fulfilling the high eligibility criteria implies that they have a sufficient understanding of the risks of such complex investments.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regulations recognize them as a separate category in India. Hence, they can participate in certain alternative and startup investment funds. 

In a nutshell, they are a privileged group that opens access to exclusive deals out of reach for regular folks.

Why this Special Treatment to Accredited Investors?

Financial regulators aim to achieve two goals by carving them out as a separate class:

Investor Protection

Complex alternative investments come with high risks that most retail investors need help comprehending. Thus, restricting them only to wealthy and financially savvy investors provides extra protection to regular folks. Only those comfortable with losing their investments should dabble in such assets.

Reducing Regulatory Burden

Startups and funds often need help to meet the stringent disclosure and compliance requirements for issuing public offers. Creating a separate accredited investor category exempts issuers who sell exclusively to such investors from various public distribution standards stipulated by regulators. This helps issuers gain easier access to capital from sophisticated investors versus having to float costly public offers.

While investor protection is an important goal, easing access to private capital is an equally important trigger for regulators to provide leeway to accredited investors. Well, of course, that comes with the flip side of relaxed disclosure norms exposing such investors to higher risks.

Who Qualifies as an Accredited Investor in India?

The eligibility criteria for an accredited investor are based on wealth, income, financial expertise, or institution category. SEBI regulations define them as follows:


  • With minimum net tangible assets of ₹10 crore OR
  • Annual income of at least ₹1 crore


  • Whose net worth exceeds ₹50 crore

Partnership firms, Trusts, HUFs, Family Offices

  • Having net tangible assets of over ₹50 crore


  • Registered with RBI

Insurance Companies

Mutual Funds & Alternative Investment Funds

  • Registered with SEBI

International Multilateral Agencies

  • Approved by the Government of India

Sovereign Wealth Funds & Foreign Government Bodies

  • As recognized under Indian regulations

Pension Funds

  • Registered under regulations in India

Resident Indians & NRIs

  • On request, having special knowledge, experience & expertise in financial matters based on income or experience in relevant fields.

The bar is kept quite high for individuals with an income of over ₹1 crore per year or ₹10 crore in net assets. Corporates, institutional investors, and Ultra-rich families have relatively lower but still substantial eligibility thresholds regarding net worth.

Additionally, regulators provide flexibility to accept certain expert resident Indians, NRIs, and their wholly controlled entities as accredited investors even if they do not meet prescribed thresholds. But this would be at the fund’s discretion based on assessing an investor’s knowledge and Atmanirbhar! 

Accredited Investors Get Exclusive Access, But With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Here’s a sneak peek into special privileges enjoyed by this privileged class

Access Exotic Assets: Hedge Funds, PE Deals and Startup Investments

Accredited Investors gain special access to sophisticated alternative assets like hedge & private equity funds, venture capital deals, and angel networks providing startup funding. Minimum investments in such vehicles begin from ₹1 crore and above.

Direct Access to Private Companies Raising Capital

Various e-platforms like LetsVenture, TermSheet, Trilegal IDF Platform, etc., provide them access to pre-vetted early-stage companies looking to raise angel, seed, or venture money while avoiding public markets.

Relaxed Disclosure Norms

Issuers raising capital exclusively from this privileged section enjoy relaxations in documentation, financial disclosures, reporting norms, etc. This allows for faster deployment of money, unlike lengthy public issue processes.

However, such benefits come with Naari Shakti 😉 Accredited investors carry higher financial risks. Being wealthy does not guarantee to be financially savvy. Nor does it shield against making questionable investment decisions – ask opticians & actors who invested big bucks with Nirav Modi and Harshad Mehta only to lose their shirts later!

Thus, financial advisers caution accredited investors to tread carefully despite quality access since complex products carry tail risks beyond comprehension. Building a diversified portfolio across asset classes – instead of chasing hot sectors – is vital even for deep-pocket investors.

Does Being an Accredited Investor Have Downsides?

While being an accredited investor opens doors to exotic assets, it comes with a few subtle pitfalls:

Illusion of Controlling Risk

A fat bank balance could provide delusional confidence in managing the risks of high-risk bets, which even fund managers struggle with. Wealth <> Financial Sophistication.

Lack of Moral Support

Not many understand the accredited investors’ world. Peers & families may interpret smart investing as gambling. Social isolation hampers objectivity in evaluating opportunities dispassionately.

FOMO from Media Triggers

Extensive media coverage of stellar startup exits fuels the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). This clouds rational thinking and prompts throwing money at anything where others made fortunes.

No Regulatory Guardrails

Unlike public market investors, they lack regulatory safeguards against mis-selling or fraud by issuers. SEBI & SAT don’t entertain complaints about assets that are exempt from public issue norms.

However, while complex investments are no walk in the park, significant wealth-creation opportunities exist for smart players, too. And direct access to unlisted deals is a coveted advantage. Like Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

So, they should utilize privileged access for portfolio diversification while being conscious of downside risks. Take informed calls, trust dependable financial advisers, and don’t unthinkingly chase irrational exuberance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can NRIs and OCIs become accredited investors?

Yes, NRIs and OCIs can qualify as accredited investors under Indian regulations, provided they meet either income or net tangible assets criteria. Certain other resident and non-resident Indians may also gain accredited status upon establishing expertise in financial matters.

How to register or apply as an accredited investor in India?

SEBI regulations do not lay down a formal accredited investor registration process. You implicitly get treated as one if you meet the eligibility criteria for income, assets, or expertise. For investing through platforms that limit entries to accredited investors, self-declaration on meeting thresholds is generally sufficient.

Can HUFs, Trusts, or Family Offices qualify?

Yes, Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs), Trusts, and unregulated Family Offices are eligible to qualify as accredited investors if their net tangible assets exceed ₹50 crore.

Is accredited investor status permanent?

No, accredited investor status is not permanent. You must continue satisfying applicable eligibility criteria on an ongoing basis to avail yourself of the benefits attached to this status. For instance, high-income earners qualifying based on that threshold must maintain requisite income levels yearly to remain accredited investors.

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