Can I Trade Private Shares?

Think of buying a traditional stock, listed on a public exchange like the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ. You can buy and sell these stocks freely; you can do so through a broker-dealer, online, or even through an app on your smartphone. You can sell it almost immediately, although there can be some limitations.

Can I trade private shares? The answer is yes. Similar to the public market, you can invest in private companies through three common types of capital raises and trade your securities on a secondary market.

 

To sum these exemptions up, they allow private companies to sell securities to US investors without going through the SEC’s registration process. They each vary as to how much capital can be raised. These exemptions include:

 

  • RegA+ is a securities exemption that allows companies to offer and sell securities to US investors and raise up to $75 million in a 12-month period through Reg A+.
  • RegCF allows companies to offer and sell securities to US investors and raise up to $5 million through online marketplaces and crowdfunding sources in a 12-month period.
  • RegD is a securities exemption that allows companies to raise capital from accredited investors (and a limited number of nonaccredited investors) without limit within a 12-month period.

 

With all of these exemptions, investors can share the securities they’ve invested in. However, there are some key differences pertaining to the length of time an investor is required to hold the security before selling it on a secondary trading platform. Reg A+ is the closest to an IPO, assets can be sold the next day, and there is no lockout period. On the other hand, securities sold under RegCF cannot be sold for the first 12 months after buying it unless it’s sold to an accredited investor, back to the issuing company, or a family member. With Reg D, investors can not sell these assets for six months to a year unless they are registered with the SEC.

Once you can trade your securities, the transaction will be carried on an alternative trading system or ATS. An ATS is much like a traditional exchange, the only difference is that they do not take on regulatory responsibilities. They are also operated by a FINRA-registered broker-dealer.

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Before you make an investment decision, be sure to understand the limitations of secondary trading. If you’re unsure of what the limitations are, please reach out to a transfer agent or broker-dealer for additional information.

Shedding Light on the Secondary Market

The private capital market is an important component of the economy and has seen considerable growth since the JOBS Act exemptions came into play. However, the public markets have the advantage of a strong underlying infrastructure, one that existed long before the advent of the Internet (the first public company was the Dutch East India Company which began stock trading in the early 1600s). In contrast, the private markets historically have fewer options for liquidity other than an exit or an IPO. 

 

Technological advancements have had a profound impact on the secondary market, transforming the way trading is conducted through the use of electronic systems for order delivery and execution. On the public side, entities like the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq have automated many functions that streamline the process of buying and selling stocks. In addition, broker-dealers and institutional investors have been leveraging powerful computer systems and sophisticated applications to manage inventory, order flow, and risk while receiving market data, research reports, and company information electronically. 

 

In the private market, alternative trading systems (ATSs) have emerged to let investors sell or buy shares on a secondary market. For example, anyone who has invested through RegA+ is then able to transact on the secondary market if the issuer has permitted that option. Still, there are many issues that face the private market. The unfortunate reality is that while a fragmented regulatory environment does allow for some secondary market transactions, issuers are not pre-empted from state securities regulations. 

 

The private capital market is beginning to catch up with the public market in terms of technological advancements, with companies seeking to create digital infrastructure and platforms for the private market. However, to truly unlock liquidity in the secondary markets of the private capital market, there needs to be an overarching system that enables buyers and sellers to identify potential trades quickly, securely, and with full transparency on the secondary market.

 

The lack of visibility in information is a key issue inhibiting secondary marketing trading in the private capital markets. Solving these issues will unlock a huge opportunity for buyers and sellers. To do this, there needs to be an underlying infrastructure similar to that which exists in the public market, allowing companies to quickly and securely connect with potential buyers and sellers, as well as gain access to real-time information about the secondary market. With the right technology in place, this could open up unprecedented opportunities for liquidity in the private capital markets that have long been “dark”.

7 Golden Rules for the Secondary Market

Secondary markets provide investors a way to trade securities they have previously purchased or buy new ones offered by other investors. This blog will look at the seven golden rules of secondary markets as well as how these rules are enforced through JOBS Act regulations.

 

What is a Secondary Market?

 

A secondary market is an organized platform that provides investors with the opportunity to buy securities from other investors, rather than from the issuer itself. It allows investors to have more flexibility in trading their securities and opens up the potential for greater liquidity. Secondary markets can be used to buy or sell almost any type of security, including stocks, bonds, options, futures, derivatives, and commodities.

 

How an ATS Differ from an Exchange

 

When trading securities on a secondary market, it is vital to understand the different types of Alternative Trading Systems (ATSs) available. ATSs are electronic trading platforms that can be used to trade securities without going through a traditional exchange. These systems can provide investors with greater liquidity and flexibility in trading their securities than what is available on an exchange.

 

Like an exchange that brings together buyers and sellers of securities, an ATS does not take on regulatory responsibilities. This means that an ATS can trade both listed and unlisted securities, like those purchased under a JOBS Act exemption. ATSs are also regulated by the SEC but must be operated by a FINRA-registered broker-dealer. 

 

The 7 Golden Rules of Secondary Markets

 

To ensure that transactions are compliant with security regulations, both issuers and investors should consider the following rules when transacting on a secondary market. 

 

Rule 1: Know Your Client (KYC) – Before conducting transactions, there must be a KYC procedure carried out by the broker-dealer. This helps to identify potentially risky investors and ensure that steps are being taken to prevent fraud, money laundering, and other illicit activities.

 

Rule 2: Disclose Financial Data – Issuers must disclose all relevant financial data before engaging in a transaction on the secondary market. This includes any material changes that have occurred since the last disclosure was filed. From an investor’s perspective, it is important to understand the financial health of the issuer before investing in their securities. This can be achieved by viewing the issuer’s financial statements, annual reports, and/or audited financials. Transparency is crucial in building trust with investors, and failure to disclose pertinent information can result in legal repercussions that can affect the trading of your security on the secondary market.

 

Rule 3: Respect Minimum Price Fluctuations – When trading on the secondary market, investors must always respect price fluctuation limits set by the governing body. These limits are designed to protect both buyers and sellers from extreme volatility or manipulation of the market. With most investors not being able to trade JOBS Act securities on the secondary market for at least a year, these limits help protect investors from quick market movements while providing issuers with stability.

 

Rule 4: Execute Trades Quickly – All trades on the secondary market must be executed quickly to ensure that buyers and sellers are getting the best price attainable. This is especially important with JOBS Act securities, as they are subject to strict time frames for when trading can take place. By executing orders promptly, investors can maximize their profits and minimize losses.

 

Rule 5: Follow Market Regulations – All transactions on the secondary market must adhere to governing body regulations, such as those set forth by the SEC, FINRA, and other regulatory agencies. This ensures that trades are conducted fairly and within legal bounds. It also protects all parties involved in a transaction from fraud.

 

Rule 6: Adhere to Securities Laws and Regulations – Issuers must comply with all applicable securities laws and regulations when trading on the secondary market. This includes complying with JOBS Act regulations, such as Regulation A+ and Regulation Crowdfunding. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, penalties, and legal action.

 

Rule 7: Maintain Good Communication with Investors – Issuers should maintain regular and open communication with investors, providing updates on the company’s performance and any important developments. This helps to build trust and confidence in the relationship between the issuer and the investor. Good communication can also help to mitigate potential issues or conflicts that may arise in the future.

 

Overall, secondary markets can offer a variety of benefits to both investors and issuers, including greater liquidity and flexibility in trading securities. However, both parties need to follow the rules and regulations governing these markets to ensure fair and secure transactions. By adhering to the seven golden rules of secondary markets, investors and issuers can mitigate risk and build trusting relationships that can lead to greater success in their investment endeavors.

What is TradeCheck?

Through RegA+, RegCF, and RegD, hundreds of companies across the country have been able to raise capital from both retail and accredited investors. The shares held by these investors are freely tradeable (after one year in the case of RegCF or RegD, however, buying and selling these securities requires compliance with a patchwork of regulations that can differ between different jurisdictions.

 

TradeCheck is a solution offered by KoreConX to ensure that state rules governing the resale of unlisted securities are met by providing clarity on state requirements for trading securities, automating compliance checks, and producing reports detailing transactions. TradeCheck is unique in its ability to provide transparency into transaction compliance, helping companies ensure a smooth and compliant trading process. 

 

TradeCheck can be used by all parties involved in a regulation process, including investors, issuers, and intermediaries. To use it, investors simply enter their email addresses into the platform and follow the prompts, where they will be asked to log in with their KoreID and password, and answer a security question before they can access their account. 

 

For issuers, the process begins with KoreConX walking them through the necessary state requirements, and providing a detailed report on which states transactions may be made in and for what time period. Alongside this, the inclusion of the issuer’s information in the Mergent “Securities Manuals” is also a part of this service. Ultimately, TradeCheck helps companies get clearance for all states and territories except California

 

The TradeCheck service also offers additional assurance to the investor or intermediary regarding the correctness of the disclosure available about the company, operating history, and financial statements. This is achieved by providing a third-party audit of the company’s documents to ensure that all the necessary regulations are met. The audit also helps in preventing any fraudulent activity which can result from incorrect disclosure or faulty financial information being provided to an investor. 

 

TradeCheck helps issuers and intermediaries comply with the regulations set by the broker-dealer operating their Alternative Trading System (ATS). It provides automated compliance checks and produces reports detailing transactions, providing transparency for investors in the regulatory compliance process. TradeCheck applies to many different types of securities and brings multiple benefits to investors, intermediaries, and other parties involved in the trading process. Ultimately, TradeCheck helps to reduce risk and increase investor confidence in trading securities.

What eBAY Tells Us About Secondary Markets For Private Companies

This blog was originally written by KorePartner Mark Roderick. You can view the original post here

 

The securities of private companies are illiquid, meaning they’re hard to sell.

Since 2017 I’d guess a billion dollars and a million person-hours have been spent by those who believe blockchain technology will create liquidity for private securities. Joining that chorus, a recent post on LinkedIn first noted that trillions of dollars are locked up in private securities, then claimed that blockchain technology (specifically, the technology created by the company posting) could unlock all that value.

This is all wrong, in my always-humble opinion. All that money and all those person-hours are more or less wasted.

My crystal ball is no clearer than anyone else’s. But when I try to believe that blockchain will create active secondary markets I run up against two facts:

  • Fact #1: Secondary markets for private securities have been perfectly legal in this country for a long time, yet there are very few of them.
  • Fact #2: The New York Stock Exchange and other exchanges around the world were vibrant even when they were using little slips of paper.

Those two things tell me that it’s not the technology that creates an active secondary market and hence that blockchain won’t change much.

An active secondary market is created when there are lots of buyers and lots of sellers, especially buyers. When millions of people wanted to buy Polaroid in the 1960s they didn’t care whether Polaroid used pieces of paper or stone tablets. Conversely, put the stock of a pink sheet company on a blockchain and you won’t increase the volume.

As described more fully here, there are a bunch of reasons why there aren’t lots of potential buyers for a typical private company:

  • It probably has a very limited business, possibly only one product or even one asset.
  • It probably has limited access to capital.
  • It probably lacks professional management.
  • Investors probably have limited voting rights.
  • There are probably no independent directors.
  • Its business probably depends on one or two people who could die or start acting like Elon Musk.
  • Insiders can probably do what they want, including paying themselves unlimited compensation.
  • No stock exchange is imposing rules to protect investors.

All that seems obvious now and was obvious in 2017. But now I’m thinking of another company with lessons about secondary markets: eBay.

If there’s anything even less liquid than stock in a private company, it’s a used refrigerator, a bracelet you inherited from your grandmother, the clock you haven’t used for 15 years.

All those things and thousands more were once completely illiquid and therefore worth nothing. eBay changed that, almost miraculously adding dollars to everyone’s personal balance sheet. Just as every ATS operating today seeks to create an active market for securities, eBay created a market for refrigerators, bracelets, and clocks. Quite amazing when you think about it.

eBay didn’t create the market by turning refrigerators, bracelets, and clocks into NFTs. To the contrary, when you sell something on eBay you have to ship it, physically, using the lowest of low technology. eBay created the secondary market simply by connecting buyers and sellers using Web2. Just like another company that has created a pretty active market, Amazon.

If any ATS operating today had a thousandth of the registered users eBay has, its founders and investors would be even rubbing their hands with glee.

As a Crowdfunding advocate, I wonder what the world would look like if all those dollars and person-hours had been spent improving the experience of initial investors rather than pursuing secondary markets and blockchain, things dreams are made of. As the shine comes off blockchain maybe we’ll find out.

Secondary Market Trading for RegA+, RegCF, and RegD

As more and more companies look to raise capital in the private capital market, it’s essential to understand the different exemptions available for this purpose. In this blog post, we’ll look at three common types of capital raises; Reg A+, Reg CF, and Reg D. We’ll discuss the critical differences between each one and how they are traded on the secondary market. By understanding the nuances of each type of raise, you’ll be better equipped to make informed investment decisions.

If you are raising capital, three main exemptions will be used in the private market. Before we discuss the differences, let’s cover what each regulation does:

  • RegA+ is a securities exemption that allows companies to offer and sell securities to US investors and raise up to $75 million in a 12-month period through Reg A+.
  • RegCF allows companies to offer and sell securities to US investors and raise up to $5 million through online marketplaces and crowdfunding sources in a 12-month period.
  • RegD is a securities exemption that allows companies to raise capital from accredited investors without limit within a 12-month period.

There are a few key differences between the three types exemptions but today we’re focusing on those differences as they pertain to the secondary market. The important thing to consider is the time an investor is required to hold the security before selling it on a secondary trading platform. Reg A+ is the closest to an IPO, and assets can be sold the next day, and there is no lockout period. On the other hand, securities sold under RegCF cannot be sold for the first 12 months after buying it unless it’s sold to an accredited investor, back to the issuing company, or a family member. With Reg D, investors can not sell these assets for six months to a year unless they are registered with the SEC.

We’ve covered other differences between the three exemptions in a previous article, including the number of investors and the amount they can invest. However, once the raise ends, the secondary market is the next important difference to be aware of so that shareholders can be properly informed before, during, and after the raise is complete.

What is Regulation A+?

Regulation A+ (RegA+) was passed into law by the SEC in the JOBS Act, making it possible for companies to raise funding from the general public and not just from accredited investors. Since March 2021, companies have been able to take advantage of the limit’s increase to $75 million. This provides companies the ability to pursue equity crowdfunding without the complexity of regular offerings. So, what investments does RegA+ allow?

Outlined in the act, companies can determine the interest in RegA+ offerings by “testing the waters.” While testing the waters allows investors to express their interest in the offering, it does not obligate them to purchase once the Offering Statement has been qualified by the SEC. Also allowed by the Act, companies can use social media and the internet to both communicate and advertise the securities. However, in all communications, links to the Offering Statement must be provided and must not contain any misleading information.

It is important to understand the two tiers that comprise RegA+. Tier I offerings are limited to a maximum of $20 million and call for coordinated review between the SEC and individual states in which the offering will be available. Companies looking to raise capital through Tier I are required to submit their Offering Statement to both the SEC and any state in which they are looking to sell securities. This was a compromise for those who opposed the preemption that is implemented in Tier II.

For offerings that fall under Tier II, companies can raise up to $75 million from investors. For these offerings, companies must provide the SEC with their offering statement, along with two years of audited financials for review. Before any sales of securities can take place, the SEC must approve the company’s offering statement, but a review by each state is not required. It is also important to note that for Tier II offerings, ongoing disclosure is required unless the number of investors was to fall below 300.

In contrast to typical rounds of fundraising, investors are not required to be accredited, opening the offering up to anyone for purchase. Under Tier I, there are no limits that are placed on the amount a sole person can invest. For unaccredited investors under Tier II, limits are placed on the amount they can invest in offerings. The maximum is placed at ten percent of either their net worth or annual income, whichever amount is greater. To certify their income for investing, unaccredited investors can be self-certified, without being required to submit documentation of their income to the SEC. Additionally, there is no limit placed upon the company as to the number of investors to whom it can sell securities.

Once investors have purchased securities through RegA+ investments, the trading and sale of these securities are not restricted. Only the company that has created the offering can put limits on their resale. This allows investors to use a secondary market for trading these securities.

Through Regulation A+, companies are given massive power to raise funds from anyone looking to invest. With the Act allowing for up to $75 million to be raised, this enables companies to raise capital from a wide range of people, rather than only from accredited investors. With two tiers, companies have the freedom to choose the one that best fits their needs. Regulation A+ and the JOBS Act have the potential to drastically change the investment landscape.

Private Securities and Crowdfunding Surge is Forecast to Continue in 2022

This article was written by our KorePartners at Rialto Markets. View the original post here.

 

Crowdfunding had another record year in 2021 and is forecast to soar even higher in 2022.

According to Pitchbook data, global crowdfunding exploded from $8.61 billion in 2020 to $113.52 billion last year – a 1,021% increase. The US market alone doubled year on year through Regulation CF and A+, with much higher numbers being raised and over 32% oversubscribed, according to SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) filings.

Recent analysis of key US private equity crowdfunding platforms such as Wefunder and Republic, showed their top 50 most invested Regulation CF (raises of up to $5 million) crowdfunding offerings raised more than $171 million in November alone from over 113,000 investors – an average of $1,315 per investor – while December tracked at similar levels going into the holiday season.

In the Regulation A+ category, where private companies can raise up to $75 million annually, SEC EDGAR filings for 2021 show 343 US-based high growth private issuers raised $8.6 billion in total.

The peak months for Regulation A+ capital raises were November and December, suggesting that 2022 will double the amount raised last year.

The market is also expected to expand significantly in 2022 and 2023 as regulated alternative secondary market trading platforms, known as ATSs, start to offer more potential liquidity in a private securities market set to grow from $7 trillion in 2021 to $30 trillion in 2030, according to Forbes.

Innovative US-based broker-dealer and a leading ATS provider specializing in private securities, Rialto Markets, predicts this trend will continue as more and more ambitious private companies in the US and worldwide apply this approach to their fundraising, leading to future secondary share trading.

Rialto Markets’ COO and Co-founder Joel Steinmetz said: “There were record months in the US crowdfunding sector during the first half of 2021 – with May being the highest – but there was a much steeper growth curve in the second half of the year, with record investment levels in the final quarter.

“We see Regulation CF and Regulation A+ public offerings complementing each other and while April was the lowest capital raising month, the sector surged in late summer, and November closed as the highest month.

“December in the US now looks like it may have matched or exceeded November, which sets the tone for a buoyant 2022, according to our research, and data coming from the major crowdfunding platforms and authorities like Pitchbook.

“We are seeing this pattern ourselves with over $730 million in signed contracts for Rialto Markets at the start of 2022 alone from high growth private companies in the primary market, using our broker-dealer infrastructure and technology.

“Additionally, in the secondary market, we are being swamped with requests from high growth private companies and marketplaces that offer fractionalized securities wishing to offer regulated trading to their investors through our SEC and FINRA regulated ATS secondary trading platform.”

Digital Twin pioneer Cityzenith, a company with three successful crowdfunding raises in three years, saw a big upsurge in investment during December and early January towards the 1st quarter 2022 close of its final $15 million crowdfunding raise.

It will then move onto funding from institutions that have followed the company’s rise during this process.

Cityzenith CEO and Founder Michael Jansen said: “Crowdfunding isn’t for the faint-hearted. You must have a strong strategy, a large following, and investors who are going to back the offerings from the outset.

“But it’s also about positioning the brand to win new partnerships and potential larger institutional investors due to the momentum you build through these Regulation CF and Regulation A+ investment offerings.”

The electric vehicle company Atlis Motors had one of the fastest and most over-subscribed Regulation CF raises of 2021, attracting its full $5 million in just a few weeks with 4,123 new investors, further illustrating the importance of building a community of investors and advocates for the future of your brand.

Shari Noonan, CEO and Co-founder of Rialto Markets – the broker-dealer for both Cityzenith and Atlis Motors – responded: “These are impressive and ambitious private companies who know what it takes to prepare and build a community for either a smaller Regulation CF raise or a much larger Regulation A+ offering.”

“2022 is going to be a massive year for the private securities market, especially Regulation CF and Regulation A+ capital raising campaigns for high growth private companies.

“We are especially excited about movement in secondary trading for private companies, and by providing a platform to potentially unlock value for investors much earlier through a regulated ATS such as our own Rialto Markets secondary trading platform.”

Has RegA+ Killed the IPO?

Has RegA+ Killed the IPO?

 

Regulation A+ gives issuers the ability to raise $75 million in crowdfunding while remaining private. With RegA+ benefiting both companies and investors, does this mean the death of IPOs?

 

RegA+, part of the JOBS Act, allows companies to raise funds through the general public, not just accredited investors. With more and more IPOs delayed, unprecedented access to private capital is available to all organizations. With RegA+, anyone can invest in private companies, making it increasingly popular with companies seeking capital, primarily since they can raise a significant amount of funding.

 

The regulatory and monetary hurdles that come with entering an IPO in addition to RegA+ have led to delays in initial public offerings. Since the JOBS Act was passed in 2012, funding opportunities for private companies have improved, especially with the allowance of not-accredited investors opening up a previously untapped pool of prospective investors. Additionally, the secondary private investment market increases liquidity options, allowing investors to sell shares in private companies to others without waiting for the company to go public.

 

Pre-JOBS Act, many companies were forced to go public because they were limited to a certain number of shareholders. With RegA+, this limit is non-existent, allowing them to stay private longer. In 2011, companies stayed private for about five years on average; in 2020, companies were private for an average of 11 years. 

 

RegA+ brings renewed opportunities, especially to small-cap companies. Companies gain access to liquidity, investors, and significant capital growth that would not have otherwise occurred. RegA+ offers substantial advantages over the traditional IPO. As our KorePartners at Manhattan Street Capital have pointed out:

 

  • “Startups don’t need to spend as much time trying to win over large investors and can focus instead on getting the company ready for the next level. Since Regulation A+ options are still being realized by the people who are now able to tap this investment potential, there is enthusiasm and momentum that is certainly to the advantage of the startups and growth-stage companies.”
  • “Instead of large amounts of capital being raised from a few sources, Reg A+ funding collects smaller amounts from a bigger pool of investors. This means that no single investor will own enough shares to have a controlling stake in what the company does, meaning that the startup can continue to operate as it pleases.”
  • “Word-of-mouth marketing is still considered the most powerful of all promotions, whether it happens in-person or through online means like social media. Main street investors are committing hard-earned money and have more of an incentive to see a return on it. They are more likely to evangelize the brands they have invested in which means a much wider marketing reach than if the company was spreading the word on its own.”
  • “Just as the investors will want to tell other people about the brand, they will also likely want to test out the products or services themselves. This can lead to feedback that improves what the company offers to the public.”

 

These are significant advantages over an IPO that will allow an issuer to secure the capital they need to grow, create jobs, and provide investment opportunities. Especially with everyday investors able to participate, RegA+ does a great job of leveling the playing field and opening opportunities up to those who would have been traditionally excluded from private investment deals.

What is the Difference Between the Public and Private Capital Markets?

 

The public and private capital markets work differently, but both sectors play essential roles in supporting economic growth. Companies raise funds for long-term growth and acquisitions in the public capital market, usually through debt instruments like bonds or stock, while private companies raise capital through private investments.  This article provides an overview of the differences between the two types of capital markets, including how they function and their role in economic development. 

 

Public Capital Markets

Public capital markets consist of equity and debt markets where buyers and sellers trade with each other daily. Many companies use this type of market to raise new capital or sell their existing stocks. It is typically easier for publicly traded companies to use these markets than private ones because traditionally, a wider pool of investors is available, and shares provide a significant amount of liquidity. Most investors use public markets to invest in companies, which buys them a partial interest in a company. It is also where many companies go when they want to raise new capital to fund their business operations. 

 

Private Capital Markets

Private capital markets are where privately-held companies can sell equity to investors like private equity, venture capital firms, and even individuals. This sale of securities is typically exempt from registration with the SEC and may come in the form of a Reg A, Reg CF, or Reg D offering. Before the JOBS Act, these types of investments were limited to high net-worth individuals and institutional investors. Post JOBS Act, even everyday investors can get a piece of a private company, which may offer a significant return if that company ever goes public through an IPO. Additionally, offerings in the private sector typically cost less to the issuer than an IPO, which makes JOBS Acts exemptions a very attractive form of fundraising. 

 

Because of the history of the private capital markets, there are misconceptions that it is expensive to invest. However, Reg A and Reg CF offerings can be affordable for investors, with investments for hundreds of dollars or less. However, non-accredited investors are limited to the amount they can invest each year by their annual income or net worth. The same restrictions don’t apply to private companies. Additionally, investors in the private capital markets have the potential for liquidity through alternative trading systems. 

 

Publicly traded companies are listed on an exchange so that anyone can buy their stocks. This means they have to follow specific guidelines set by the SEC to maintain listing requirements. Private company stock is not publicly available for trading, but there are still ways you may be able to get your hands on some shares. It’s important to note that different securities trade differently depending on where they’re bought from, and choosing the public or private capital market is the first step in any investment.

 

 

 

Join the new American Revolution – financial markets equality for all

This post originally appeared on the Rialto Markets blog and was written by Lee E. Saba, Head of Market Structure at Rialto Markets.

 

Very few people understand the revolution now taking place in financial markets.

It is to do with private markets and has been sparked by new regulations allowing investment and trading access to the masses.

For the first time, you and me, mom and pop, can invest in early-stage companies once exclusive to the elite investor. You know the investors I refer to: those with deep pockets that always seem to get in early, make a fortune when the company goes public, then exit the position as fast as possible to lock in significant gains.

Well, those days my friends are now a thing of the past.

Access to the best private company offerings

Retail investors now have access to some of the best private companies available at the early stage. Imagine investing in Tesla, Amazon or Coinbase before they listed on the “big” boards like the NYSE and Nasdaq, you know, during that high growth period where the real money can be made.

Accessing private markets is not in any way a guarantee for future gains however, because everyone who can pass anti-money-laundering (AML) and know your client (KYC) can get access to these companies now.

Hundreds of thousands private investors are joining the crowdfunding revolution

But how did we get this much wider access? It’s due to the JOBS Act of 2012 creating two new ways for private companies to raise money – Regulation A+ and Regulation CF (CF is short for crowd funding).

These two new rules (or exemptions as they are formally known) allow private companies to raise up to $75 million via Regulation A+ or up to $5 million via Regulation CF.

And anyone can invest in them. You no longer have to be a high-net-worth investor to get access – you can just be you. It’s a revolutionary development now gaining rapid adoption across the private markets’ landscape, allowing everyday citizens and traditional large financial institutions to invest side by side.

Gaining access to these previously inaccessible assets is a huge step in the right direction, but there is one more exciting angle to these assets. Drum roll, please….

Secondary Market for RegA+

Secondary markets mean if you bought a private placement security, say a Regulation A+, in the primary market (when the private company is open to outside investors) and want more of it or need the money you originally invested to pay off student loans or put a down payment on a home, you can now monetize that investment and get your money well before the company sells or goes public.

And there is an SEC regulated marketplace to buy and sell private placement securities. This means investors in private securities have a government regulator looking out for them, not some fly-by-night unregulated crypto operation run by novice entrepreneurs but a full-blown marketplace to match any buyers to the sellers and any sellers to the buyers.

This regulated matching facility is called an ATS (Alternative Trading System) and the professional investors on Wall Street have used these for years to get the best price and least amount of market impact as possible. But now anyone can access the world of private placements through a regulated ATS like ours at Rialto Markets.

Rialto’s team has built numerous Alternative Trading Systems in the traditional capital markets arena and has now leveraged that huge experience to launch its new ATS for private securities, enabling all investors – from retail to high end institutions – to participate in secondary markets for private securities.

Secondary trading for private securities? Yup. It’s a whole new and brave new world.

As a Canadian Company, can Canadians Invest in Your RegA+?

We have extensively discussed how Americans can invest in securities offered under Regulation A+. However, Canadian companies can also use the exemption to raise capital to fund their businesses. Despite the ability for Canadian companies to use Reg A+, this was a decision made by US regulators, as the JOBS Act is a US, not Canadian, law.

 

Because Reg A+ is a US regulation, it makes it incredibly simple for Canadian companies to raise money from investors based in the United States. They go through the standard procedures for Tier 1 or 2 offerings before making the offering available to investors. On the other hand, Canadians investing in Canadian companies through Reg A+ is a little more challenging to be done.

 

In theory, it is possible. The issuer would need to be qualified in each Canadian province they are conducting the offering in. They can seek a Canadian equivalent of a broker-dealer to structure the offering so that investors can invest. In practice, this is not done very often, as meeting compliance requirements for all Canadian provinces is challenging in addition to US compliance requirements. In addition, the cost would be far more than the potential upside. Interestingly enough, Canadian regulators have created rules for secondary trading that give Canadian investors more opportunities to invest. Canadian investors can “hop the border,” so to speak, and buy securities in a secondary market transaction. This allows Canadians to purchase securities in a Canadian company.

 

Even though Canadian companies could technically raise money from Canadians under Reg A+, it is often cost-prohibitive. That does not mean investors are out of luck. Through secondary market transactions, Canadian investors can purchase securities in Canadian companies, allowing them to become shareholders.

Why do I need Blue Sky registration for Secondary Trading?

Through the Regulation A+ exemption, securities issuers can raise up to $75 million as of March 2021. This creates a significant opportunity for the everyday investor to make investments in private companies and for the companies to benefit from the large number of investors that exist within this space. Unlike securities purchased on a national securities exchange, like the NASDAQ or New York Stock Exchange, investors in private companies have been somewhat limited in their options for liquidity.

 

This created the need for a secondary market on which investors could sell shares to other interested buyers, rather than waiting for the company to go public through an IPO to sell their shares. However, when it comes to enabling investors to be able to access secondary market platforms for their shares, there are a few things issuers need to consider.

 

First, just as the original offering has to comply with the Blue Sky laws in the states they choose to do business in, secondary market trading falls under the same requirements. For offerings that fall under the Tier 1 Reg A+, offerings are required to meet the blue sky requirements in each state and must be reviewed and registered by the state and the SEC. For Tier 2 offerings, the offering preempts Blue Sky laws and does not require review and registration. Some states also require issuers to work with a broker-dealer for the offering, so issuers should pay careful attention to that requirement when preparing their offering.

 

Similarly to complying with the laws governing raising capital, issuers must also comply with the laws that govern secondary trading markets in the states they are looking to make secondary trading available in. Since Blue Sky laws vary between jurisdictions, it can be difficult for issuers to maintain compliance with the laws in each state. In this case, issuers can file for “manual exemption” of the Blue Sky laws, accepted in numerous states. This means that issuers can qualify for secondary trading as long as they meet disclosure requirements, like meeting financial standards and ensuring that key company information is listed in a national securities manual.

 

While meeting compliance requirements to offer secondary trading to investors may seem like a challenging task, working with a broker-dealer can ensure you are meeting all requirements. As an issuer, once you can offer secondary trading, your investors will benefit from liquidity options for their shares.

How the Unaccredited Investor Benefits from RegA+

The passage of the JOBS Act in 2012 set in motion a significant change for the private capital markets. For so long, investments in private companies could only be done by wealthy accredited investors who would benefit immensely if the company was ever to go public during an IPO. While the everyday person has long been able to buy stocks of a public company, the potential for such a significant return on their investment was low. It was thought that this was to protect investors from the risk of a private company. 

However, the JOBS Act has rewritten this narrative, allowing anyone to invest in private companies raising capital through exemptions like Regulation A+. When the act was first passed into law, companies could raise up to $5 million. However, it has since undergone a few notable changes that transformed it from an infrequently used exemption to one that allows companies to raise a significant amount of capital. The first came in 2015 when Title IV amended the JOBS act to allow companies to raise up to $20 million and $50 million from tier 1 and tier 2 offerings, respectively. Again in 2020, the SEC announced further amendments allowing companies to raise up to $75 million through tier 2 offerings, which went into effect March 15, 2021. 

The amendment increased the availability of capital for private companies and created incredible investment opportunities for non-accredited investors. For investments in tier 1 offerings, there are no limits placed on investors, while tier 2 offerings limit non-accredited investors to a maxim of 10% of the greater of their net worth or annual income.

Since the change in 2015, SEC data shows the impact it has had on the number of offerings under this exemption. In 2015, only 15 companies had qualified for either tier 1 or tier 2 offerings. In 2019, this number had increased to 487 companies. With so many companies conducting offerings under Regulation A, and the number increasing year over year, there are more opportunities than ever for the non-accredited investor. They are free to research investment opportunities, deciding if the investment fits with their investment goals and risk tolerance. They are free to identify companies that align with their philosophies, values, and causes that are important to them. For example, an investor may have a strong affinity for reducing their environmental impact. They can choose to invest in a company that also upholds this same value. 

In addition, the emergence of a secondary market for private company investments opens up a new possibility for liquidity. Previously, private company shares could only be sold or traded once a company had gone public. However, now investors have the opportunity to sell their shares to other interested investors.

The JOBS Act has allowed non-accredited investors to enter the playing field in the private capital market. Just as the companies who can now use RegA+ to raise capital, investors can use the offerings as an opportunity to make a profit and support companies they believe in. 

Shareholder Rights and Why They’re Important to Know

The first thought that comes to mind when someone says “shareholder,” is Wall Street, understandably, as Wall Street is home to the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, the two largest stock exchanges in the world. In this sense, becoming a shareholder is dependent on owning stock. A common word in the financial industry, a stock is a unit of measure for how much of a company a shareholder owns. When it comes to the stock market found on Wall Street, those are stocks being traded in public companies, like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. These are household names, but there are also privately-owned companies that you would know by name, like Koch Industries, Bloomberg, Staples, and Petsmart. These private companies also have shareholders, who have rights associated with their ownership in a private company. For private company shareholders, there are three major rights; access to information, voting rights, and the ability to attend and participate in meetings.

 

One quick comparison we can make between private and public companies is the number of shareholders they have. Because a public company has shares available on the stock market, there is a greater opportunity for everyday people to grab at least one share, while private companies traditionally have far fewer shareholders because there is less access. However, the JOBS Act is changing the landscape, allowing the everyday investor to access more investment opportunities in private companies through Regulation A+ and Regulation CF. These regulations allow investors to invest smaller amounts of money in exchange for shares of a private company. No longer are these types of investments limited to accredited, angel, and venture capital investors. 

 

However, this plays a role in the rights of shareholders due to the volume of your voice in meetings and decisions. One right that shareholders have is the ability to attend meetings on major decisions in the company. When there are fewer investors in a company, the louder your voice will be in the room. This is important because by owning a part of that company, shareholders gain the right to participate and attend meetings to protect their investment from decisions that they feel would misuse their funds.

 

As a shareholder, you have the right to vote on major decisions being made by the company that could very well change the direction of the company. This again goes back to protecting your investment, as investing in a private company is often a long-term investment. Private company earnings can be paid out to shareholders, but the more likely scenario for a shareholder in a private company, especially if it is not a particularly large company, is a liquidity event, such as going public, buying out shareholders, or by being able to offer shares for sale on a secondary market alternative trading system. Making sure that your investment is safe is why you have the right to vote on major decisions. The same is true for your access to information. As a shareholder in a private company, you have a right to know how the company is doing, to see how your investment is playing out.

 

It is important to know your rights as an investor whether it is in a public or private company because you have put your money in the hands of others with the expectation that they will use it to grow and make more money for you in the future. As an investor in a private company, you have more say than an investor in a public company by the fact that you are one of few as opposed to one of many. Use that power and protect your investment; remember that if you own stock, you own part of the company and have rights. 

Managing Your Investments in Private Companies

For investors, investing in private companies can be a beneficial way to diversify their investment portfolios. Whether the investment was made through private equity or RegA+, proper management can contribute to long-term success. However, once the investment is made, investors need to ensure that they are correctly managing their shares. With this in mind, how should investors manage their investments once they have been made?

 

Investments made in private companies can often come with voting rights. Being a part of company decisions is an important aspect of being an investor and helps to elect company directors and resolve issues. Investors exercising their voting rights can be a major aspect of managing their portfolio.

 

Whether information is provided directly to the investors by the company or through a transfer agent, as companies release reports and other key information, shareholders should maintain current knowledge of the information. Understanding the company’s direction and changes that are occurring can give investors a picture of the future so they can determine how their shares will affect their portfolio. The investor should also know where the data can be found so that they are easily able to access and assess it.

 

Additionally, investors should monitor the liquidity of the shares. Since some private company shares can be traded in a secondary market, understanding the value and the option to trade is important for investors. If they know how much their shares are worth, and they have the ability to sell them, investors can freely trade their shares. This is key if they decide that they no longer want to be a shareholder in a particular private company.

 

However, for investors who own shares in multiple different companies, managing this information can become a burdensome task. With an all-in-one platform that incorporates portfolio management for investors, KoreConX streamlines and simplifies the process. KoreConX Portfolio Management allows investors to manage their investments from a centralized dashboard. Investors are easily able to see the shares that they own in each private company they’ve invested in. Through the platform, investors can access critical company information and performance data in one place, eliminating the need to remember where each piece of information is kept. Investors are also notified of upcoming shareholder meetings and can exercise their voting rights through the KoreConX platform. When companies and investors utilize the KoreConX platform, they can achieve higher success rates by maintaining compliance with necessary regulations. Utilizing KoreConX Portfolio Management is a powerful tool for investors to make informed decisions regarding their investments.

 

When dealing with private company investments, it is incredibly important that investors properly manage their portfolios. Remaining up-to-date on company decisions and performance can help them plan for the future of their shares while allowing them to make decisions to increase the success of their investments. When investors understand their voting rights, company developments, and the liquidity of their shares, they can be an active participant in their financial success.

The State of the Jobs Act 2021 KoreSummit Webinar

The JOBS Act was signed into law just nine years ago, in April of 2012. Since then, thousands of companies have taken advantage of the Act’s exemptions to raise capital for their companies.  More than half a million investors have participated, providing funding to these companies—and it’s just getting started!

 

The JOBS Act’s fundamentals are simple:

  • Democratize capital so everyone can invest
  • Give ownership back to the owners
  • Create jobs

 

The proof of momentum is in the numbers and there now exists real tangible growth in the private markets.

 

The JOBS Act’s Impact by the Numbers for 2020

Total Funding Portals: 51

Total Companies Funded: 1,100

Total Companies Raising $1M USD: 229

Number of States: 48

Total Raised: $239.4M

Total Number of Investors: 358,000

Average Raise: $308,978

 

On November 2, 2020, SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton announced an amendment to two regulations that have truly expanded investors’ access to the funding of startups, emerging growth companies, and affinity-based projects online.  Companies can now use Reg CF to raise up to $5M USD, and RegA+ to raise up to $75M USD.

 

On March 15, 2021, our webinar brings together two individuals who began this journey more than a decade ago. You will hear them reflect on their experiences and, more importantly, what lies ahead for the next version of the JOBS Act and the following chapter on capital raising for entrepreneurs.

 

David Weild IV is a stock market expert best known for his position as Vice Chairman of NASDAQ. He is currently the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Weild & Co. Inc., the parent company of the investment banking firm Weild Capital, LLC (dba Weild & Co.). Weild is also known as the “father” of the JOBS Act and has been involved in drafting legislation for the US Congress.

 

Sara Hanks, CEO of CrowdCheck and Managing Partner of CrowdCheck Law, is an attorney with over 30 years of experience in the corporate and securities field. CrowdCheck and CrowdCheck Law together provide a wide range of legal, compliance, and due diligence services for companies and intermediaries engaged in online capital formation, with a focus on offerings made under Regulations A, CF, D, and S, whether traditional or digitized securities.

 

Sara’s prior position was General Counsel of the bipartisan Congressional Oversight Panel, the overseer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Prior to that, Sara spent many years as a partner at Clifford Chance, one of the world’s largest law firms. While at Clifford Chance, she advised on capital markets transactions and corporate matters for companies throughout the world. Sara began her career with the London law firm Norton Rose. She later joined the Securities and Exchange Commission and as Chief of the Office of International Corporate Finance, she led the team drafting regulations that put into place a new generation of rules governing the capital-raising process.

 

Sara received her law degree from Oxford University and is a member of the New York and DC bars and a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. She serves on the SEC’s Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee. She holds a Series 65 securities license as a registered investment advisor. Sara is an aunt, Army wife, skier, cyclist, gardener, and animal lover.

 

This fireside discussion will be hosted by Vincent Molinari, co-founder and CEO of Molinari Media (Fintech.TV), who has followed the industry and is using the JOBS Act to raise capital for his own firm.

Bringing Private Placements into the Digital Age

How blockchain-based technology will transform private markets

 

Remember the first time you drove a car with a rear-facing camera? The first time you streamed an on-demand movie at home via the Internet, or used GPS instead of a fold-out paper map to find your way on a trip? Similarly, emerging digital technologies have the potential to significantly streamline the cumbersome process of issuing and trading private securities, while automating regulatory compliance and enhancing secondary-market liquidity, transparency, and price discovery. The best part? All these benefits can be captured within existing market structures.

 

The growing popularity of private placements over public listings in recent years is a well-documented phenomenon, driven by tightened regulatory requirements for public issuers and a widening search for returns among investors in a low-interest-rate world.

 

Strong Growth in Private Markets

Acknowledging that raising capital in private markets is simpler than floating public offerings, the path to private issuance is still lengthy and complex. After capital is raised, issuers incur ongoing costs for stock transfers, escheatment, dividend payouts, and compliance. Meanwhile, participants in secondary markets must cope with complexities in making legal and transfer arrangements. Indeed, the timeline for executing trades in privates is currently calculated not in hours or days, but in weeks and months. Throughout, the process is larded with paper, paper, and more paper, stuffed into a file cabinet or residing on email servers.

 

Contrast that with the way new digital mechanisms can transform how private markets operate.

Source: Preqin

 

Blockchain based technologies help ensure that regulated securities are allowed for trading, execute and track payment and receipt of dividends, and validate that transactions have been executed solely with approved investors.  Post-trade processes leverage blockchain’s single “source of truth” — that is, the immutability of a blockchain ledger — working with SEC registered transfer agents.  Alternative trading systems (ATS) are now live for secondary trading of private yet regulated digital securities.

This is no pie-in-the-sky, far-in-the-future scenario. Industry standard-setting bodies like the FIX Trading Community (aka FIX), the Digital Chamber of Commerce, and the Global Digital Asset & Cryptocurrency Association, operating within the framework of the International Standardization Organization (ISO), are at work developing ways to integrate trading of digital securities into existing market structures. For example, FIX has a globally represented working group focused on adapting its widely used messaging standards to communicate and trade digital assets.

 

In short, digitization of private securities can ease capital raises, streamline compliance, improve liquidity and transparency, and save issuers and investors money — all within a regulated ecosystem. In future articles, we’ll explore what the emerging digital trading landscape means specifically for issuers and investors.

 

Continue reading “Bringing Private Placements into the Digital Age”

What is Regulation A+?

Regulation A+ (RegA+) was passed into law by the SEC in the JOBS Act, making it possible for companies to raise funding from the general public and not just from accredited investors. With the implementation of Title IV of the act, the amount that companies can raise was increased to $50 million (since increased to $75 million), offering companies the ability to pursue equity crowdfunding without the complexity of regular offerings. So, what investments does RegA+ allow?

 

Outlined in the act, companies can determine the interest in RegA+ offerings by “testing the waters.” While testing the waters allows investors to express their interest in the offering, it does not obligate them to purchase once the Offering Statement has been qualified by the SEC. Also allowed by the Act, companies can use social media and the internet to both communicate and advertise the securities. However, in all communications, links to the Offering Statement must be provided and must not contain any misleading information. 

 

It is important to understand the two tiers that comprise RegA+. Tier I offerings are limited to a maximum of $20 million and calls for coordinated review between the SEC and individual states in which the offering will be available. Companies looking to raise capital through Tier I are required to submit their Offering Statement to both the SEC and any state in which they are looking to sell securities. This was a compromise for those who opposed the preemption that is implemented in Tier II.

 

For offerings that fall under Tier II, companies can raise up to $75 million from investors. For these offerings, companies must provide the SEC with their offering statement, along with two years of audited financials for review. Before any sales of securities can take place, the SEC must approve the company’s offering statement, but review by each state is not required. It is also important to note that for Tier II offerings, ongoing disclosure is required unless the number of investors was to fall below 300.

 

In contrast to typical rounds of fundraising, investors are not required to be accredited, opening the offering up to anyone for purchase. Under Tier I, there are no limits that are placed on the amount a sole person can invest. For unaccredited investors under Tier II, limits are placed on the amount they can invest in offerings. The maximum is placed at ten percent of either their net worth or annual income, whichever amount is greater. To certify their income for investing, unaccredited investors can be self-certified, without being required to submit documentation of their income to the SEC. Additionally, there is no limit placed upon the company as to the number of investors to whom it can sell securities.

 

Once investors have purchased securities through RegA+ investments, the trading and sale of these securities is not restricted. Only the company that has created the offering can put limits on their resale. This allows investors to use a secondary market for trading these securities.

 

Through Regulation A+, companies are given massive power to raise funds from anyone looking to invest. With the Act allowing for up to $75 million to be raised, this enables companies to raise capital from a wide range of people, rather than only from accredited investors. With two tiers, companies have the freedom to choose the one that best fits their needs. Regulation A+ and the JOBS Act have the potential to drastically change the investment landscape.

What is Secondary Market Trading?

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term secondary market, you’re likely familiar with the concept. Companies sell securities to investors, who in exchange own a piece of the company. The investor can then decide they would rather not own that security any longer, so they sell it to someone else who does. For public companies, this typically happens on the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange, where people freely sell and purchase stock in publicly traded companies. 

 

The exchange is considered secondary because the transaction is not done with the original company that offered the security. An example of a primary market transaction would be an initial public offering, or IPO, during which a company is offering securities directly to investors for the first time. For any security sold through a secondary market, the funds go to the investor selling, and not the company that originally offered the security.  This is one of the major distinctions between the primary and secondary markets. 

 

Securities in private companies can also be sold through a secondary market, similar to stocks in public companies traded on the stock market. The investor, with the help of their broker, can offer their securities for saler. Once the offer has been accepted, the company that originally offered the securities must be contacted to approve the deal. Once approved, both the buyer and the seller complete the paperwork for the transaction and complete the deal. 

 

Without the secondary market, investors would be unable to trade the securities they have purchased, leaving them without any options for their investments. Importantly, access to a secondary market allows employees of the issuer to sell their securities that they may have been awarded. Without a secondary market, these investors and employees would not have any option to sell their shares unless the company was to go public during an IPO. 

 

Despite the straightforward logic behind the process, secondary market trading has been relatively fragmented, with not all processes occurring in the same place. This increases the potential for errors and any increases in transaction time that they may cause. To combat this, platforms on which securities can be traded through the secondary market have been developed as secondary market trading has become commonplace in the world of investing. 

 

KoreConX has developed an all-in-one platform, which includes a secondary market as one of its features. On the platform, every important authorization that is deemed necessary for the transaction to occur is kept in one place, allowing for information to be easily tracked and recorded. Buyers, sellers, brokers, and the transaction itself are brought together in one place to prevent errors that may have occurred otherwise. Additionally, the KoreConX Secondary Market eliminates central clearinghouses from the process, allowing for real-time confirmation and availability of funds once the transaction is complete. 

 

Secondary market trading allows investors to sell securities they’ve purchased from private companies to other interested investors, similar to trading public stocks. Even though their sale is decentralized, platforms such as KoreConX allow for people to easily and securely sell their securities, creating a more efficient and streamlined process.