Diversifying Capital Raising Strategies for Startups

Navigating the VC Winter: Diversifying Capital Raising Strategies for Startups

In the face of a VC winter, startups find themselves at a crucial juncture, requiring innovative approaches to secure funding. We will embark on an exploration of the myriad avenues available for raising capital beyond the traditional venture capital (VC) sphere. We dive into anecdotes of how private companies have creatively accessed funds, emphasizing the importance of not being tethered to a single source of capital. The focus is on the JOBS Act and its provisions, which offer startups a variety of options with potentially more favorable terms than VC funding. We’ll tackle the challenges companies face in this endeavor, from navigating regulatory landscapes to attracting investors. Additionally, we outline seven strategic steps to diversify funding sources, reinforcing the necessity of a well-rounded understanding of all available options. By the end, startups and established companies alike will be equipped with the knowledge to navigate the capital raising process effectively, leveraging regulations to their advantage and working with trusted advisors to ensure success.

The Landscape of Raising Capital

Raising capital for private companies is an art form, with various avenues from VC and angel investments to friends and family, bank loans, government grants, and the provisions under the JOBS Act. Each source has its narrative, shaping the journey of a startup in unique ways. These stories reveal a broader landscape of funding opportunities, illustrating that the path to securing capital is not linear but a web of interconnected routes.

Beyond VC: The JOBS Act and Other Avenues

Entrepreneurs must look beyond VC to fuel their growth, especially in times when VC funding becomes scarce. The JOBS Act emerges as a beacon of hope in such times, offering three distinct regulations (RegCF, RegD 506c, RegA+) that provide startups with options for funding. These options often come with better terms than traditional VC deals, underscoring the importance of a strategic approach that blends various funding sources. This strategy not only mitigates the risk associated with relying on a single source but also broadens the potential investor base.

Navigating Capital-Raising Challenges

The journey of raising capital is fraught with challenges, from understanding the regulatory framework to choosing the right partners for issuance and attracting potential investors. A significant hurdle is the lack of awareness about the diversity of funding sources. Many companies do not realize the breadth of options available to them, limiting their potential to secure the necessary capital. Familiarity with each source’s regulatory roadmap, working with trusted FINRA Broker-Dealers, and leveraging technology partners for issuance are crucial steps in this process.

Understanding Sources of Capital

A comprehensive understanding of all sources of capital is essential. Each source, from VC and bank funding to government grants, friends and family, and the JOBS Act, comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For instance, while VC funding can offer significant capital and mentorship, it often requires giving up a portion of equity and control. On the other hand, JOBS Act funding may provide more favorable terms but requires navigating a regulatory landscape and a totally different approach in attracting investors to your company.

Seven Steps to Raising Capital

  1. Educate Yourself on Regulations: Understanding the legal framework is paramount. This knowledge will guide which investors you can target and how.
  2. Build a Diverse Funding Strategy: Combine different sources of funding to minimize reliance on any single avenue.
  3. Select the Right Partners: Work with trusted advisors, such as FINRA Broker-Dealers and technology partners, who understand your business and the regulatory environment.
  4. Prepare a Compelling Pitch: Your pitch should resonate with the specific investors you’re targeting, whether they’re angel investors, VC firms, or the public through a crowdfunding campaign.
  5. Leverage Government Grants and Loans: Explore and apply for grants and loans that may be available for your industry or for innovation.
  6. Engage Your Network: Friends and family can be an initial source of capital, often willing to invest in your success.
  7. Utilize JOBS Act Provisions: Understand and leverage the specific regulations under the JOBS Act that best suit your company’s stage and needs.

In the challenging terrain of capital raising, knowledge and strategy are your best allies. The regulatory landscape, embodied by the JOBS Act, provides a roadmap for startups and established companies alike to navigate their way to successful funding. Educating oneself on the myriad sources of capital, understanding the pros and cons of each, and crafting a diversified funding strategy are essential steps. By working with trusted advisors and carefully selecting funding sources, companies can weather the VC winter and emerge with the capital necessary for growth. Remember, the journey of raising capital is complex and multifaceted, but with the right approach and resources, it is navigable. There are no shortcuts, but the path is rich with opportunities for those willing to explore beyond the traditional routes.

 

 

Private Capital Market Regulations – 10 RegA+ Issuers Penalized for SEC Violation: What Can We Learn?

The Importance of Compliance in Private Capital Market Regulations

We’ve discussed compliance at length and how it’s essential for building trust within the private capital markets. But what happens when you’re not compliant?

The SEC will eventually find out and impose penalties to issuers that fail to meet securities regulations, as ten Regulation A+ (RegA+) issuers recently learned.

These recent violations can serve as a cautionary tale to issuers about the importance of adhering to Private Capital Market Regulations.

Regulation A+ and the SEC’s Oversight

Companies selling securities to raise capital generally have to register with the SEC and comply with other rules that can be expensive and onerous for smaller companies, so RegA+ allows exemptions from registration, provided certain other conditions are met. In its press release, the SEC announced that 10 RegA+ issuers failed to comply with these conditions, highlighting the challenges within Private Capital Market Regulations. The SEC reported that each issuer was previously qualified to sell securities under RegA+, but subsequently made significant changes to the offering so that it no longer met exemption requirements. These changes included “improperly increasing the number of shares offered, improperly increasing or decreasing the price of shares offered, failing to file updated financial statements at least annually for ongoing offerings, engaging in prohibited at the market offerings, or engaging in prohibited delayed offerings.”

Private Capital Market Regulations: Protecting Investors and Market Integrity

These regulations are not just arbitrary demands by the SEC; they exist to protect investors and the integrity of the system as a whole. For example, changing the offering price without getting those changes cleared by the SEC is a concern because it could be a vector for fraud or money laundering; issuing securities for a different price conceals the actual amount of money changing hands. Similarly, making unsanctioned changes to offering terms can erode investor confidence. Ideally, each investor conducted their own due diligence before investing – they felt comfortable with the terms listed in offering documents qualified by the SEC. Changing these terms without notifying investors and having changes approved by the SEC just isn’t fair play, and underscores the critical role of Private Capital Market Regulations.

The Consequences of Non-Compliance

The ten issuers cited by the SEC violated these principles, and got caught. Each company agreed to stop violating the Securities Act, and to pay civil penalties that ranged from $5,000 to $90,000. In the press release, Daniel R. Gregus, Director of the SEC’s Chicago Regional Office was quoted saying: “Companies that choose to benefit from Regulation A as a cost-effective way to raise capital must meet its requirements,” reinforcing the significance of compliance with Private Capital Market Regulations.

These penalties serve as a reminder that issuers must be careful when making changes to their offering after qualification. Working with an experienced team can help to mitigate some of this risk, but ultimately, it is the issuer’s responsibility to meet all securities regulations, including those pertaining to Private Capital Market Regulations. And as with most things, 90% of the job is preparation.

How not to fall into the wrong with the regulators checklist

  • Always check with your securities lawyer and FINRA Broker-Dealer who did your RegA+ filing before making any public statements, news releases, or announcements related to investment in your company, as these might be construed as offerings subject to SEC rules and Private Capital Market Regulations;
  • Track all your activities date, time, where distributed
  • Be thoroughly familiar with your company, its business, and how it is structured.
  • Have a clear idea of your company’s funding needs, how much capital you need to raise, what kind of equity or control you are prepared to give up in return
  • Seek advice from qualified experts: securities lawyers, broker-dealers, accountants; being familiar with your own company will help you answer their questions and get better advice.
  • Choose the right capital-raising route for your needs, whether it be a bank loan, remortgaging your house, or using one of the JOBS Act exemptions.
  • READ THE REGULATIONS! Seriously, read the regulations, and any explanatory notes from the SEC on how they apply and what you need to do to comply.
  • Make notes about the parts you’re not sure about, and ask your experts how they apply to you.

It may turn out that the exemption you initially chose isn’t the right one for your needs, so be prepared to go back and change your plans. It’s much easier to change plans before they’re implemented than it is to have to fix something that’s gone wrong with the implementation.

Once you’re satisfied with the regulation you’ve chosen, make a list of all the things you’ll need to do to carry out a compliant and successful raise. You might do this yourself, or with the assistance of your experts, but in any event you should have your experts review it to see if you’ve got anything wrong or left anything out. Execute the plan. You may need to delegate some of the items on the list to others, but ensure that there is always someone accountable to sign off on the completion of every requirement. Maintain a paper trail of who did what and when, not so much to know whom to blame but to be able to identify where something went wrong and how to fix it. Don’t panic. Mistakes happen.

Veni, Vidi, Verify

More than two millennia ago, Julius Caesar said the famous phrase, “Veni, Vidi, Vici”, triumphant in battle. This translates to, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” While the Roman Empire has long since fallen, these powerful words continue to ring true today – only in a different context. When it comes to investment opportunities, there is a simple way to “conquer” the investment process: Veni, Vidi, Verify.


I Came: The Search for Investment Opportunites 

 

With Regulation CF or RegA+, investors have more investment opportunities available to them than ever. Many of these investment opportunities are in startups that have a promising future, ranging from collectibles, MedTech, real estate, and many other growing industries. This is the time to start thinking about how you can use these opportunities to grow your investment portfolio while aligning your risk tolerance with your investing goals.

 

I Saw: Seeking Legitimate Investments

 

The abundance of options available to investors can be considered both a blessing and a curse. Despite the many opportunities available, you must ensure that the company is legitimate and the way you invest. For issuers, the same could be said about making certain investors are who they say they are to protect your company. When investing, it is good to analyze the risk versus the reward of a particular investment. You want to ensure that everything is above board in terms of your investment and there are no underlying additional risks. 

 

I Verified: Confidence Through Verification

 

Verification allows investors and issuers alike to verify the information provided by all parties to help confirm the transaction is legitimate and complies with regulatory requirements. Verification can ensure the quality of an investment with the assistance of data and information, such as:

 

  • ID verification
  • KYC and AML
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Transaction information
  • Company information and history

 

This gives investors the peace of mind to pursue assets knowing that they are making an informed decision and letting issuers know that investors are who they say they are. Additionally, tools such as the KoreID mobile app enhances the process of verification during the investment process. With KoreID, investors can securely manage their investments and personal information to meet KYC requirements. 

Veni, Vidi, Verify helps both issuers and investors ensure that they are making secure investments. Ultimately, verification and adherence to securities regulations create trust between investors and issuers during the investment process.

What is Phishing?

No one thinks they’ll fall victim to a cybercrime, but in reality, you’ve likely come across a suspicious email that could be trying to steal login credentials, financial information, or your identity or install dangerous computer viruses. Maybe you’ve received an email that claims to be from Netflix or Amazon, requesting your password, account email, payment information, or other personal information and directing you to an unfamiliar website. These characteristics are the hallmarks of a classic phishing attack, which can lead to identity theft, credit card fraud, ransomware attacks, and more. 

 

Where Did Phishing Come From?

 

The history of phishing dates back to the mid-1990s, when groups of hackers posed as AOL employees and used the instant messaging platform to steal passwords and login credentials. The purpose of these attacks was to use the hijacked accounts to access the internet, rather than pay for access once the 30-day free trial of AOL expired. These hackers were known as “phreaks”, a group of individuals who had a keen interest in studying telecommunication systems. The name “phishing” was used to link these scams to this community.

 

In the early 2000s, hackers began to branch out past AOL accounts to target financial systems to steal credit card information and passwords. Since then, the prevalence of phishing scams has grown exponentially, with 36% of data breaches involving a phishing attack, according to a Verizon report. Between 2021 and 2022 alone, the number of malicious phishing emails grew by 569%, according to cybersecurity company Cofense.

 

How Phishing Works

 

In modern phishing attacks, many hackers use spoofing to disguise an email address, website, phone number, or sender name in the hopes that it will appear legitimate. It could be as simple as changing a number, letter, or symbol so that the URL a hacker is using, without close inspection, is coming from a legitimate source. This will often trick victims into disclosing sensitive information like passwords or credit card numbers, which are then stolen by the hackers. 

 

Protecting Yourself

 

Luckily, there are easy steps to protect yourself against phishing attacks. According to the FBI, companies generally will not contact you asking for your username or password. If you receive an email, text, or phone call requesting this information, that should be a significant red flag. If you receive an unsolicited email with a link, avoid clicking on it. Instead, carefully examine the sender’s name, email address, spelling, and other details about the correspondence to see if there are slight inaccuracies that could point to it being a phishing scam. And, if an email asks you to download something or open an attachment, do not do so unless you can verify that the sender and attachment are legitimate. Also, be wary of the information you share online. Details like birthdays, pet names, schools you attended, and other personal details can be used to guess passwords. 

 

The Importance of Verification

 

Ultimately, the confirmation of someone’s identity can help to avoid potential scams. This can be achieved in the private capital markets by complying with securities regulations. For investors, due diligence and careful research of investment opportunities can highlight potential red flags that could be a telling sign of something too good to be true. At the same time, verifying the identity of a company raising money can provide assurance that it is a legitimate investment opportunity. For issuers, identity verification like AML and KYC confirm that investors are who they claim to be. 

 

Being on the lookout for phishing can help protect your identity and financial information from hackers. Understanding what these scams are and how they work is one of the best defenses available. Stay tuned for the next article in this series, which will shed light on a different type of scam. If you have any questions or topics you’d like to see discussed in more detail, please reach out and share your ideas with us!

What is the Role of FINRA?

When it comes to investment, there are a lot of things to think about. You want to make sure that you’re making smart decisions with your money, and that you’re not being taken advantage of. That’s where the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) comes in. FINRA is an independent regulator for securities firms, and its job is to make sure that all firms operate fairly and honestly, and that investors are protected–giving investors confidence in the legitimacy of their investment while holding securities companies to a high standard. Keep reading to learn more about the role of FINRA and how they help to protect investors.

 

What is FINRA?

 

FINRA is a not-for-profit regulatory organization authorized by the US Congress to protect investors. FINRA oversees all US-based securities firms and is considered the front line of defense when it comes to investor protection. FINRA’s rules and regulations ensure that all securities firms operate fairly and honestly and that investors are given the information they need to make informed investment decisions. Operating under the auspices of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), FINRA is the largest independent regulator for securities firms doing business in the United States.

 

Who does FINRA protect?

 

FINRA exists to protect investors, which means that they provide rules and regulations that apply to all securities firms to create a level playing field. They do this through a variety of means, including registration and licensing, monitoring and examining firms, conducting enforcement actions, and providing investor education. FINRA also offers assistance and support to investors who have been wronged by a securities firm. By educating investors about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to investing, FINRA helps protect them from being taken advantage of. In terms of security firms, FINRA’s job is to make sure they are adhering to all relevant rules and regulations, and that they are providing accurate and complete information to their investors.

 

Why is FINRA important?

 

FINRA plays an important role in the investment landscape by ensuring that all securities firms operate fairly and honestly. This helps to create trust between investors and the industry, which is essential for a thriving economy. In today’s day and age, with crowdfunding being available to accredited and non-accredited investors, FINRAs role is more important than ever. Giving peace of mind to investors is one of the most important roles that FINRA plays.

 

What is the role of FINRA as it relates to investment crowdfunding?

 

Investment crowdfunding is a relatively new phenomenon, and FINRA has been working to create rules and regulations that will protect investors while still allowing this innovative form of investing to flourish. The role of FINRA in investment crowdfunding is to protect investors by ensuring that issuers are providing accurate and complete information about their offerings, and that platforms are properly registered and compliant with all relevant rules and regulations. By doing so, FINRA is helping to create a safe and transparent environment for this growing industry.

 

One of the key issues that FINRA is concerned with is the disclosure of information by issuers, which is essential to ensuring that investors can make informed investment decisions. When it comes to Reg CF offerings, FINRA Rule 251(a)(3) requires issuers to file a Form C with the SEC before they can solicit investors. Form C must include information about the issuer, the offering, and the use of proceeds. In addition, all materials that are used to solicit investors must be filed with FINRA. These filings give FINRA the ability to review the offering and make sure that it is compliant with all applicable rules and regulations.

 

Foreign Investors Key Considerations for Your Next Deal

This post was originally written by our KorePartners at Crowdfunding Lawyers. View the original post here

 

When discussing fundraising for your deals, most of our attention has previously focused on U.S. citizens investing their own money. That’s to be expected, but it’s important not to overlook another potential funding source: foreign investors. This article will explore what you should know about working with foreign investors in the U.S. and their potential impact on your deal.

Foreign Investors in the U.S.

Foreign investors are those individuals or companies outside of the United States who invest their money into U.S.-based businesses. And foreign money can be great. But, of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to know here and some pretty important restrictions.

How Foreign Investments Work

Before we dive into how these investments work or the pros and cons of foreign investments, we should touch on the restrictions put in place by the U.S. government. You’ll find that they’re twofold. First, there are restrictions set out by the country’s government in which you’re raising funds that you need to consider, as well as those applied by the U.S. government. Second, there are also regulations regarding how much money can be raised from foreign investors.

Foreign Investment Regulations

Each country has its own rules regarding investments. It is your responsibility to investigate what those are and how they may impact you, your investors, and the money that you raise. Some factors to consider include how much money you’re raising and the level of involvement between citizens of foreign countries.

It’s important to stay in legal compliance within all countries, which means you need to know the true cost of remaining completely legally compliant within each’s borders. In some cases, you may find that it is simply too expensive to develop a feasible plan. For example, suppose you’re raising a small amount of capital in a foreign country to transfer to the United States, and you’re not being fraudulent. In that case, complying with local securities laws might be somewhat cumbersome.

Too often, those raising funds focus more on securities laws here in the United States rather than in the other country, but this can hamstring you.

Limitations on Who Can Invest

In addition to the laws governing investments in the other country, you’ll also need to consider our domestic Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, here in the U.S. This organization determines which foreigners can invest and which ones should be blocked. In some cases, the OFAC focuses on the individual or the nation in question. In other instances, their review centers on the foreign country and the investment amount.

For instance, if an investor has 15% of greater assets in North Korea, Iran, Syria, and some other countries, they cannot invest here in the U.S. Again, you will need to check the OFAC website to see who is on the blocked persons list.

This is all part of getting to know your investors. It’s an enormous risk, but it can be potentially rewarding. You don’t want to take any money from people that you shouldn’t be because it can lead to problems beyond the scope of securities law.

Of course, these rules are implemented with good reason. They help ensure that you’re not taking money from a terrorist, helping someone launder money, for instance.

U.S. Securities Laws

We’ve touched on these briefly, but they bear deeper scrutiny. U.S. securities laws have a significant role to play when it comes to foreign investors. For instance, we have a law called “Regulation Asks,” which states that the securities laws for foreign investors don’t apply because they’re foreigners to the SEC. Regulation S states that if you investors are outside the country, most securities laws do not apply.

With that being said, if you commit fraud in any way, dealing with foreign investors will not prevent the SEC or any other authorities from investigating you and your investors. So it’s important to avoid the assumption that Regulation S protects criminal behavior – you should always do the right thing.

However, this brings up an important point. Since securities laws may not apply the same way to foreign investors that they do to U.S. investors, are you still required to provide disclosure? Absolutely, yes. The best path forward is to comply with Reg D as much as possible because then at least you’re providing proper disclosure to your investors and not taking advantage of the vulnerable out there.

Potential U.S. Tax Implications for Foreign Investment Deals

The tax situation is never simple, and adding foreign investors to the mix can muddy the waters a great deal. The tax consequences here can be substantial because when you add foreign investors to the mix and operate as an LLC, there’s pass-through taxation.

You will also have to deal with increased IRS scrutiny. The IRS is extremely worried about what your foreign investors will do – will they take their earnings and leave without paying taxes? Ultimately, you are responsible for their actions. This can mean that if a typical deal requires approximately 30% in withholdings, you should withhold the proper amounts from your investors’ earnings and pay it to the IRS on their behalf.

We also have FIRPTA, the Foreign Investment in Real Estate Property Tax Act of 1980. It requires you to withhold 15% from investors’ returns, although you should check with your tax specialists on the sale of real estate for any distributions that will go to foreign investors.

Avoiding Tax Complications with Foreign Investors

There are a lot of potential downsides to working with foreign investors. So how can you avoid them? Just don’t take on any. How do you avoid them, though?

It just comes down to requiring foreign investors to create their corporation or LLC within the U.S. This ensures that you’re able to let them into the deal, and you no longer have to worry about taking 45% of their returns and transmitting them to the IRS. You’ll also be able to deduct all of their expenses and losses against their income since they won’t be considered “pass-through” entities.

In addition, you can set up a separate bank account for each investor, and ensure that they only receive payments through that account. That way, you can keep track of who has paid what and make sure that everyone pays their fair share.

So, while it might seem like a good idea to work with foreign investors, you need to think twice before doing so. If you do decide to go ahead with it, you’ll need to consider these issues carefully and consult with a skilled attorney.

The Canadian Exemption

While the rules we’ve discussed here apply to investors from most nations, there is an exemption for Canadian investors under certain circumstances. The U.S. maintains a treaty with Canada that states these investors are not subject to the tax withholdings we just talked about. That means Canadian investors can be taken on without too much worry, at least about tax withholdings, with one caveat – you must have a limited partnership and cannot use an LLC or C corp or any other business formation option.

If you wish to work with Canadians, you’ll need to set up a limited partnership to receive their investment. If you choose to do so, make sure you understand all the risks involved with doing so.

The Big Questions to Consider When Taking on Foreign Investors

We’ve covered a lot of ground here in a short time. So, to sum up, let’s go over the big questions you’ll need to answer when you consider taking on foreign investors within your deal.

  • Are they from a country subject to sanctions, like North Korea, Syria, Iran, or Russia? Note that this list changes from time to time as sanctions are placed and lifted. Always check the OFAC list to ensure that your investors are clear about bringing their money into the U.S.
  • Are you following the securities laws of the other country? Are you doing enough business in that country that you need to be concerned about these laws?
  • Are you complying with U.S. tax rules as they pertain to your deal? For example, are you withholding the proper amount and remitting it to the IRS? If not, you’ll be held responsible unless your partners are American entities or have an exemption.

Do you understand all the risks involved in dealing with foreign investors? Do you know where to find information about each country? Is your legal team familiar with international law? These are all things you’ll need to think through before you sign off on any deals and it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney to help guide you

How Do I Get Foreign Investors Involved in My Deal?

If you want to attract foreign investors, you’ll need to make sure that you’re meeting their needs. To start with, you’ll need to understand why they would invest in your project. What are their goals? What are their motivations?

You’ll then need to determine if you can meet those goals and motivations. Can you provide them with something unique? Something that’s hard to find elsewhere? A good place to start is by looking at what you offer and comparing it to what others offer.

Once you’ve determined that you can meet their needs, you’ll need to figure out how to get them involved. There are two ways to approach this. One is to simply ask them to invest directly. They will likely require some sort of equity stake in your company. In exchange, they’ll receive a return on investment (ROI) based on the success of your venture.

Alternatively, you may choose to take a more traditional route. You can form a limited liability company or corporation, and invite them to join as shareholders. Their shares will be treated as income-generating assets, which means they’ll pay taxes on their share of profits. This is also known as “passive” investing.

In either case, you’ll need to know the law in both countries so that you don’t run afoul of local regulations. We’ve already touched on this briefly, but it bears repeating. Be aware that you may be required to register as a broker-dealer, and comply with all applicable federal and state securities laws.

What Happens After I Take On Foreign Investors?

Now that you’ve got investors, you’ll need a plan for managing them. How do you keep them happy while still keeping your own interests protected? You’ll need to set expectations early on. Make sure everyone understands what they’re getting into.

One thing to remember is that you’re dealing with people who have different levels of experience. Some may be new to investing, while others may have been around the block many times before. It’s important to make sure that everyone understands the risks involved.

As you go through the process, you’ll also want to make sure that you have a clear understanding of the terms of the agreement. For example, you should know whether you’re going to issue stock, sell debt, or use other financing methods. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll need to be prepared to deal with taxes. If you’re issuing stock, you’ll need to decide whether you’re going to treat the shares as long-term capital gains or short-term capital losses.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your business plan takes these things into account. You’ll need to consider how you’re going to finance the project, how you’re going to manage risk, and how you’re going to handle any potential legal issues.

In Conclusion

In the end, working with foreign investors is a tricky situation, but with proper guidance from both experienced tax and legal professionals, it can be profitable for both you and your investors.

A Look Back on the Last Year of RegA+

Marking a huge step forward in equity crowdfunding opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors alike, one year ago, the SEC’s game-changing decision went into effect that allowed businesses to raise $75 million through RegA+ and $5 million from RegCF. These new limits were a significant increase from the former $20 million and $1.07 million limits for RegA+ and RegCF, respectively. To celebrate this one-year anniversary, we take a look back at the progress that has been made and how this new fundraising avenue is benefiting startups and businesses of all sizes.

The History of RegA+ and RegCF

Regulation A+ and Regulation CF are securities offerings brought to life through the JOBS Act, passed in 2012. They allow companies to raise money from investors without going through the process of a complete initial public offering.

Regulation A+ was created by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an amendment to Regulation A of the Securities Act of 1933. It allowed companies to raise up to $50 million from unaccredited investors, a limit increase to $75 million in March 2021.

Benefiting from JOBS Act Regulation

The main benefit of Regulation A+ is that it allows companies to avoid some of the more demanding regulatory requirements that are usually associated with a public offering. It is also less costly, which is essential in creating more opportunities for issuers to take advantage of the exemption. For Tier I offerings, companies are required to file audited financial statements and ongoing reporting. On the other hand, Tier II offerings do not have requirements to register with state securities regulators.

RegCF allows companies to offer and sell their securities to the general public, including unaccredited investors, through crowdfunded ventures. Both Regulation A+ and RegCF are a way for companies to raise money without giving up significant equity or control of their company. The main drawback to both RegA+ and RegCF is that they are not as well-known as other fundraising methods, such as an IPO or private equity. As a result, it can be more challenging to find investors who are willing to invest in a company through either of these methods, but there are ways to be ready for this capital-raising journey.

Despite this, there has been a surge in companies using Regulation A+ and RegCF in the past year. This is likely because traditional fundraising methods are becoming increasingly difficult  and cost-prohibitive for startups and small businesses. Another main reason is the substantial increase in the amount a company could raise with these regulations, making it also an attractive way to raise capital for larger offerings like in real estate or Medtech.

Increase in Capital Raised

Once more reliable Q1 numbers become available, we can better estimate how much was raised in the year since the capital that RegA+ could raise was increased. In 2020 before the change in the amount of capital companies could raise, it is estimated $1.48 billion was raised from RegA+. In 2021, when the increased capital raise was available for most of the year, over 2 billion was raised.

In 2020, $239 million was raised using RegCF before the changes to how much capital could be raised. When the amount that RegCF could raise was increased from a little over a million to $5 million, the total amount raised in these campaigns soared to $1.1 billion in 2021. We do not have exact numbers yet on how much has been raised in the year since the capital increase, but this figure is expected to double in 2022. This would mean that in the three years since the increase in how much capital could be raised, over $3.5 billion has been raised with these methods. This number will continue to grow as people become more comfortable with these types of investment vehicles and as the infrastructure surrounding them becomes more robust.

By lowering the requirements for entry into capital raising with these regulations and increasing the amount that can be raised, the JOBS Act has allowed more people to invest in the growth of small businesses. This, in turn, is helping to create jobs and support the economy.

David Weild, Former Chairman of the NASDAQ and Father of the JOBS Act, had this to say about the increase in how much capital companies could raise; “It means more capital will be available for entrepreneurs, allowing their ideas to become realities and helping create living wage jobs across the U.S.”

This is a huge win for small businesses, investors, and the economy. The increase in how much capital can be raised has allowed more people to invest in small companies, which helps create jobs and support the economy.

In the past year, there has been a surge in the number of companies that have used Regulation A+ and RegCF to raise capital. This is likely due to these methods being less well-known than other forms of fundraising, such as an IPO or private equity. The increase in how much can be raised with RegA+ and RegCF has allowed entrepreneurs more access to capital without giving up ownership or control over their company.

Can I Use My IRA for Private Company Investments?

Individual retirement accounts (commonly shortened to IRAs) allow flexibility and diversity when making investments. Whether investing in stocks, bonds, real estate, private companies, or other types of investments, IRAs can be useful tools when saving for retirement. While traditional IRAs limit investments to more standard options, such as stocks and bonds, a self-directed IRA allows for investments in things less standard, such as private companies and real estate. 

 

Like a traditional IRA, to open a self-directed IRA you must find a custodian to hold the account. Banks and brokerage firms can often act as custodians, but careful research must be done to ensure that they will handle the types of investments you’re planning on making. Since custodians simply hold the account for you, and often cannot advise you on investments, finding a financial advisor that specializes in IRA investments can help ensure due diligence. 

 

With IRA investments, investors need to be extremely careful that it follows regulations enforced by the SEC. If regulations are not adhered to, the IRA owner can face severe tax penalties. For example, you cannot use your IRA to invest in companies that either pay you a salary or that you’ve lent money to, as it is viewed by the SEC as a prohibited transaction. Additionally, you cannot use your IRA to invest in a company belonging to either yourself or a direct family member. If the IRA’s funds are used in these ways, there could be an early withdrawal penalty of 10% plus regular income tax on the funds if the owner is younger than 59.5 years old. 

 

Since the IRA’s custodian cannot validate the legitimacy of a potential investment, investors need to be responsible for proper due diligence. However, since some investors are not aware of this, it is a common tactic for those looking to commit fraud to say that the investment opportunity has been approved by the custodian. The SEC warns that high-reward investments are typically high-risk, so the investor should be sure they fully understand the investment and are in the position to take a potential loss. The SEC also recommends that investors ask questions to see if the issuer or investment has been registered. Either the SEC itself or state securities regulators should be considered trusted, unbiased sources for investors.

 

If all requirements are met, the investor can freely invest in private companies using their IRAs. However, once investments have been made, the investor will need to keep track of them, since it is not up to their custodian. To keep all records of investments in a central location, investors can use KoreConX’s Portfolio Management, as part of its all-in-one platform. The portfolio management tool allows investors to utilize a single dashboard for all of their investments, easily accessing all resources provided by their companies. Information including key reports, news, and other documents are readily available to help investors make smarter, more informed investments. 

 

Once investors have done their due diligence and have been careful to avoid instances that could result in penalties and taxes, investments with IRAs can be beneficial. Since it allows for a diverse investment portfolio, those who choose to invest in multiple different ways are, in general, safer. Additionally, IRAs are tax-deferred, and contributions can be deducted from the owner’s taxable income. 

What is KYP?

Previously, we have talked about KYC or Know Your Client. KYC is a rule from the non-profit Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), created in the United States in 2007, in response to the growing fears of economic collapse that could come from underregulated securities firms. One part of the FINRA rule set created in 2012 is KYC (Rule 2090). Another is Rule 2111 (Suitability). It is important to mention both of these rules, as the topic for today, KYP, or Know Your Product, directly relates to them in their effort to protect investors. 

 

The KYC rule dictates that in the event of opening or maintaining an account for an investor, a broker-dealer is required to verify the investor’s identity by matching the provided material from the investor to government records. This aids the government in fighting money laundering and other financial crimes, as a broker-dealer must also review their finances for evidence of these types of crime. It also allows potential customers to evaluate broker-dealers as FINRA tracks the brokers in good standing with their organization. Finally, with suitability, a broker-dealer must use reasonable effort to understand the risk tolerance and facts about a potential customer’s financial position. This means understanding the types of products and plans an investor is comfortable making, as people of different ages and levels of wealth have different plans for their money. For instance, younger adults typically have a higher risk tolerance as they have a longer-term time horizon to work with their money. On the other end, older adults have lower risk tolerance. There is no one type of investing that works for every person, as each person has a different set of circumstances dependent on their life experiences. 

 

Where KYP comes in is a further step past just KYC and suitability. You may know the client their investment preferences, but if you do not understand the product you are investing in for your client, that information is essentially useless. Under KYP, a broker-dealer, “must understand the structure and features of each investment product they recommend. This includes costs, risks, and eligibility requirements. The KYP requirement applies to both the firm and the individual.

 

KYP expands on the suitability requirement from FINRA by requiring a full understanding of each investment so that it fits an investor and their specific risk tolerance more effectively. This involves:

 

  • The risk level of the investment, meaning its liquidity, “price volatility, default risk, and exposure to counterparty risk” 
  • Any costs associated with fees or embedded costs
  • The financial history and reputation of the issuer or parties involved
  • Any legal and regulatory framework that applies

 

Just as it is important to know your client and understand what types of investments are suitable for regulatory and business purposes, it is important to understand the products you recommend. 

What is the Difference Between Fiduciary Responsibility and Regulatory Requirement?

By definition, a fiduciary is a person or an organization who holds a legal or ethical relationship of trust with another person or organization. Typically, this has to do with the responsibility or duty in a financial sense. As an adjective, it gets defined by the Oxford dictionary as “involving trust, especially with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary.” The word gets most commonly used when stating that a company has a fiduciary duty to its shareholders. In practice, this means that the company has an ethical and legal responsibility to act in the best interest of its investors. For example, the company and its executives need to protect a shareholder’s financial investment in that company and is an example of a duty of loyalty. Included also is a duty of care, which indicates that a fiduciary will not back away from their responsibility.

 

Fiduciary duties do not just relate to the financial sector. For example, a lawyer has a fiduciary duty to their client to act in their best interest, but we will focus on the financial sector. Fiduciary responsibility in finance is a relationship between two non-governmental entities. In contrast, a regulatory requirement is a rule that a government or government-related organization imposes and enforces onto an organization.

 

Many governmental organizations impose regulations on the financial sector, like the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or the Federal Reserve Board. The governmental-related organizations are the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). We have previously discussed the regulations passed by both FINRA and the SEC in preceding blogs, which detail those processes well.

 

Both fiduciary responsibility and regulatory requirements can result in legal action if there is a breach in conduct, but the actors and stage are different. With fiduciary responsibility, the beneficiary of the fiduciary duty would file suit against the trustee in civil court who knowingly or unknowingly failed in their duty. This is a relationship between non-governmental actors, so in this case, a person litigating against an organization or vice versa.

 

On the other side, regulatory requirement gets dictated by a government entity like the SEC or OCC suing a company or individual for failing to comply with the law. This suit would land in criminal court, with punitive fines, damage to their reputation, and sanctioning. For example, in California, you need to be a registered broker-dealer for a Regulation A+ offering. If you decide as a company to ignore this law, the state regulator can, and will, require you to return all money raised, and you can get barred from raising money in the state. You will get labeled as a bad actor, which will damage the reputation of your business.

 

While fiduciary duty and regulatory requirements are different in terms of the responsibilities, actors, and negative consequences involved when failing to comply, they are critical to follow and maintain.

Why are Background Checks Important?

Money laundering is a global issue, with the United Nations estimating that between $800 billion and $2 Trillion are laundered each year, with 90% of this estimation remaining undetected. Money laundering is the act of taking money obtained through illegal activities and then introducing it into the system to legitimize or clean it and then make use of it. Originally, and most often, this was applied to the actions of organized crime but has expanded to included tax evasion or false accounting. 

 

The United States has multiple laws to prevent this type of activity and reclaim the illegitimate assets from criminals aiming to circumvent the system. Many of these laws directly affect the financial institutions of the nation. American banking and investment businesses need to follow compliance regulations that help in the effort to combat money laundering, including FINRA’s (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) Rule 2090 (KYC or Know Your Client). The Know Your Client rule was introduced by FINRA to require broker-dealers to use reasonable effort to verify the identity of customers (or any other account owners) and assess their risk level. Part of this goal is to add transparency to the financial institutions in America, especially following the 2007-2008 financial crisis, and incorporate Anti-Money Laundering (or AML) compliance into the structure of our institutions.

 

AML and KYC are extensions of the Bank Secrecy Act and the CDD (Customer Due Diligence) Rule. The act, created in 1970, aims, as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network states, “to improve financial transparency and prevent criminals and terrorists from misusing companies to disguise their illicit activities and launder their ill-gotten gains.” So, through the Know Your Client rule, broker-dealers must evaluate the information provided by a potential customer and verify their identity against government documents and assess the risk level they pose towards financial crime. 

 

This activity is a check for any indication of money laundering or terrorism financing. Part of this is a background check or a customer screening, checks beyond their identity. Using the customer’s identity, financial institutes check against various lists, like sanction lists, watch lists, and PEP lists to evaluate if the customer may be engaging in illegal activities. 

 

Background checks get followed by continuous monitoring, allowing broker-dealers to better spot irregularities in the transactions. For instance, in the event of large cash transactions, those typically over $10,000. Amount exceeding this amount must be reported and monitored. All to say that many governments and non-government institutions require compliance to defend against this issue that gets taken very seriously. Throughout 2020, there were several institutions fined for violating AML related compliance. Kyckr compiled these together and found that: 

 

  • Twenty-eight financial institutions were issued fines for AML-related violations.
  • Regulators from 14 countries issued AML-related fines.
  • Fines totaled roughly $3.2 billion USD.

 

Failing to follow the laws and maintain compliance can have serious consequences for financial institutions. Ensuring that you do the proper level of due diligence, follow the Know Your Client rule, and perform a background check can protect your business. 

 

What is KYC?

In 2007, the SEC approved the founding of the non-profit Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA was created in the wake of a failing economy to consolidate the regulation of securities firms operating in the United States. The authority’s responsibilities include “rule writing, firm examination, enforcement, arbitration, and mediation functions, plus all functions previously overseen solely by NASD, including market regulation under contract for NASDAQ, the American Stock Exchange, the International Securities Exchange, and the Chicago Climate Exchange.”

The mission is to safeguard the investing public against fraud and bad practices. To fulfill this mission, FINRA added two rules in 2012: Rule 2090 (KYC or Know Your Client) and Rule 2111 (Suitability). 

KYC works in conjunction with suitability to protect both the client and the broker-dealer and help maintain fair dealings between the parties. The Know Your Client rule is a regulatory requirement for those responsible for opening and maintaining new accounts. This rule requires broker-dealers to access the client’s finances, verify their identity, and use reasonable effort to understand the risk tolerance and facts about their financial position. 

KYC is an important rule as it governs the relationship between customer and broker-dealer and safeguards the proceedings. At the heart of this rule is the process that verifies the customer’s identity (or any other account owners) and assesses their risk level. Part of FINRA’s goal is to eliminate financial crime, which means that when a broker is accessing a potential customer, they are looking for evidence of money laundering or similar crimes. This process goes both ways as FINRA allows a customer to verify the identity of brokers in good standing with the organization.

KYC also goes hand-in-hand with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rule, which seeks to identify suspicious behavior, outlined under FINRA rule 3310. Crimes such as terrorist financing, market manipulation, and securities fraud are illegal acts that KYC, AML, and other rules aim to prevent.

Another part of the Know Your Client rule is the requirement of a broker-dealer to use reasonable effort to understand a client’s risk tolerance, investment knowledge, and financial position. For example, accredited investors can make Regulation CF and A+ investments without facing restrictions, while the everyday investor is limited based on their net worth and income. 

When making recommendations for a client, a broker-dealer must comply with Rule 2111, the suitability rule, which means that they must have reasonable grounds for this suggestion based on a review of the client’s financial situation.

Compliance with these rules is maintained by following policies and best practices that govern risk management, customer acceptance, and transaction monitoring. Due diligence is done to know a client needs to be recorded, retained, and maintained so that broker-dealers can continuously monitor for suspicious or illegal activity. In 2020, FINRA processed 79.7 billion market events every day and imposed $57 million in fines. 

What Forms of Alternative Finance are Available?

Starting a business can be difficult. Most young companies enter the scene with little capital to help them grow. Taking a loan out from the bank is a good start, but some options can end in higher rewards without a loan hanging over your head. These are alternative finance options, like raising seed capital from friends and family, angel investors, or crowdfunding. Today, we will explore forms of alternative finance available to you as a private company and where in the life cycle of your business they may appear. 

Friends and Family

In the early stages of your company’s business life cycle, raising capital from family and friends is a great place to start securing safe, additional funding if you are able. When your family and friends are early investors, they are not required to register as such, making it easy for them to help your growing company. In this stage of your company’s development, entrepreneurs will want to retain as much equity as possible. Friends and family investors make this possible without needing to give up part of a growing company. 

As you begin to accelerate your business plans, there are several avenues available that can help you raise significant capital and increase your valuation if (or when) you plan to offer your company later on the public market.

Angel Investors or Venture Capital Firms

As a private company, one of the traditional ways for you to raise capital is through an angel investor, a wealthy individual, or a venture capital firm, a group of investors that invest in companies on behalf of their clients to make them money. Both of these investors will generally invest early, requiring equity and hoping for a successful return on investment later on. 

Peer-to-Peer Lending 

Peer-to-peer lending is a pretty straightforward form of alternative finance. Typically, through online platforms, investors can enter a pool of lenders, which a borrower can pull from and then repay. This form of investment cuts out the bank as the middleman, which opens up access to companies that may not have good credit. 

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a great mechanism for investments that build a company’s proof of concept because crowdfunding success relies on having a product or service people want or believe in. As the name would imply, crowdfunding is sourcing small investments from a large number of investors and falls into one of two categories rewards-based or equity-based offerings. 

Rewards-Based Crowdfunding

Rewards-based crowdfunding is an investment that expects compensation in the form of the product a company is producing. A good platform for this form of crowdfunding is Kickstarter. You will often see independent video game developers or small business owners looking to raise capital for a particular product and offer rewards based on how much an investor invests. 

Equity-Based Crowdfunding or Regulation CF

Regulation CF is a crowdfunding tool regulated by the SEC signed into law in 2012. However, it has recently expanded to allow more investing opportunities. The JOBS Act allows non-accredited investors to invest in private companies in exchange for equity in the company. More specifically, for investors with either a net worth or annual income less than $107,000, investments in Reg CF offerings are limited to $2,200 or 5% of the greater of their annual income or net worth. 

This tool allows companies to raise as much as $5 million in 12 months from many investors. In 2020, 358,000 investors participated in Reg CF campaigns. 

Regulation A+

Another method of allowing companies to have non-accredited investors invest in their companies is Regulation A+, by exempting the offering from SEC registration. Many companies have begun to offer securities through the RegA+ exemption following a successful RegCF raise. Proceeding this way will elevate your chances of raising more money, up to $75 million annually, because the Regulation CF will show potential investors that the products or services offered by the company are of great interest to many individuals. It is important to note that non-accredited investors are limited to investing 10% of their annual income or net worth, whichever is greater.

 

There are many avenues of alternative finance to investigate before going to a traditional financing option as a private company. We encourage you to look into all of these types and see which is right for you and your business. 

 

What is RegTech?

In the wake of the 2008 economic crisis and the subsequent recession that followed, there was a push to create new regulations to govern financial institutions in the United States. With these regulations came requirements that businesses had to follow to be compliant with the new laws. What followed the new regulations was a rise in companies offering services to help companies manage compliance easily and efficiently, both in time and cost. This is the purpose and application of RegTech.

RegTech, or Regulatory Technology, is more specifically the use of technology to manage regulatory processes within the financial industry. The goal of companies that offer RegTech is to use cloud computing, machine learning, and big data to drive automation and lift a majority of the burden of complicated compliance requirements of the compliance teams in businesses, to reduce human error, and accomplish difficult tasks more efficiently. As regulations become more robust and regulators are demanding more transparency in the forms of auditability, traceability, and automation, a company that is required to comply with a lot of regulations cannot easily subsist without some form of RegTech to help them avoid the risk of sanctions.

RegTech services help to compile large amounts of data in secured and compliant ways, as well as comb that data for risks to the organization. While these services affect the budget of a company, it is arguably canceled out by the amount of time and energy saved by simplifying the complex processes. 

For example, let’s say a bank was previously doing all of their regulation audits manually, scanning the compliance law and solving what pertains to them, what they need to do, and how they need to do it to be compliant. While they could feasibly do this, it will take a considerable amount of time if the compliance officer tasked with this job is not a master of the laws pertaining to their enterprise. Then, following that long process, the bank will need to show the reporting, who did the reporting, when it was pulled, and keep the information secured. 

This type of manual process is solved by RegTech. Not only will your data be secured, but it will also be accessible and timestamped, so you can demonstrate who complied, how they complied, and when they complied by logging all of the actions a user takes and creating a trail.

This is one example of how RegTech helps in a compliance situation, but it is also used by regulators to help reduce the time it takes to investigate compliance issues. While these are the more well-known aspects of RegTech, it also helps in many more categories within the financial sector, such as:

  1. Reporting
  2. Anti-money Laundering 
  3. Compliance
  4. Governance
  5. Risk Management
  6. Management and Control 
  7. Transaction Monitoring

As the financial industry continues to rely more and more on data and technology, RegTech will continue to grow to keep up with the demand for more applications from companies and regulators alike. 

What Impact Will Blockchain Have on Private Markets?

Blockchain has become a familiar buzzword, especially as things such as cryptocurrency grow in popularity. Currently, 46 million Americans now own Bitcoin. However, blockchain has many more industry-changing applications. Nearly any asset, both tangible and intangible, can be tracked and traded through blockchain. 

 

Blockchain, also known as distributed ledger technology, is a database where transactions are continually appended and verified across by multiple participants, ensuring that each transaction has a “witness” to validate its legitimacy. Blockchain transactions are immutable, meaning that they cannot be changed, making it difficult for hackers to manipulate. Copies of the ledger are decentralized, not stored in one location, so any change to one copy would immediately make it invalid, as the other copies would recognize that it had been altered. 

 

In private markets, blockchain technology has the potential to become a powerful tool, replacing manual inefficiencies with secure, digital processes. Everything from issues certificates to shareholders and preparing for audits becomes easier with transparent, readily available records. While public blockchains, like those that host Bitcoin transactions, enable anyone to participate, companies can also establish private and permissioned blockchains. In these forms of blockchain, the ledger is still decentralized, only access is controlled and only authorized individuals are allowed to participate. 

 

Rather than traditional securities, private companies can use distributed ledger technology to offer shareholders digital securities instead. These securities are still SEC-registered or fall under exemptions like Regulation A and Regulation CF. Digital securities protect investors, enabling them to always be able to prove their ownership, and companies are protected from the possibility of losing records of their shareholders. Private companies also benefit from blockchain as records are already transparent and readily available. Rather than hiring an advisor to review company documents, private companies employing blockchain technology will have records ready to go when conducting any capital market activity. Blockchain also dramatically reduced the amount of manual paperwork, since digital securities can be governed by smart contracts that preprogram protocols for their exchange. In addition, blockchain makes it easier for private companies to share information and data, while shareholders can feel confident that records are immutable and unable to be tampered with. 

 

Many companies are still in the early stages of adopting blockchain or are just beginning to consider its possibilities. Blockchain will only continue to be adopted by private companies both in the United States and around the world, improving the processes associated with private market transactions. The private market will benefit from increased transparency and efficiency, making transactions smoother for both companies and their shareholders.

How a Member of the Crowd Made Crowdfunding Easier

A while back, one of our favorite start-up clients called me and asked me to speak to a potential investor. Paul Efron, a resident of Arizona, wanted to invest in the company’s Regulation A offering. However, when he went onto the company’s website to invest, his subscription was rejected. The company was accepting subscriptions from investors in every state but Arizona and Nebraska.

Why Arizona and Nebraska, asked Paul?

The reason was that while federal law and most states’ laws say that a company selling its own securities is exempt from broker-dealer registration, that’s not the case in a handful of states. These states say that if a company isn’t using a registered broker-dealer to sell in their state, the company has to register itself as an “issuer-dealer.” Depending on the state, that can involve letters to the regulators showing that the company and its officers are familiar with securities regulations, fingerprints, and, in the case of Arizona, a requirement that the company comply with “net capital” requirements as if they were an actual broker. Start-ups, of course, very rarely have any excess capital sitting around. So our client decided just not to sell in Arizona. (There were similar issues in Nebraska, which has since changed its rules.)

Paul could have done several things at this point. He could have pretended he lived somewhere else. He could have given up and invested in something else. But, being an entrepreneur himself, he decided the law needed to be changed, and set about changing it.

He reviewed the Arizona legislature website and saw that every legislator gets an email address on the website.  The way the website email system is setup, doing a mass email campaign with individual emails was possible.  Paul sent out an email to every one of the 30 Senators and 60 Representatives which took about an hour of click, click, cut and paste.  He found the autofill function very helpful.  Republican Senator Tyler Pace and Democratic Representative Aaron Lieberman replied to the email.  Having a member of both parties from both houses was perfect for this nonpartisan bill.  He brought me in to explain the issue to the legislators, their staff and the relevant committee staff. They listened, understood, and drafted. The first attempt at getting the legislation through was derailed because of COVID.  Paul contacted the legislators again.  The bill was reintroduced, passed this session, and the Governor signed it into law last week.

Start-ups (and Arizona investors) owe Paul. Not just for getting this roadblock removed, but for setting an example of what can happen when a citizen looks at a regulation and says “Well that doesn’t make any sense; how do I fix that?”

Regulation A+ Is Even Better After Passage Of The Economic Growth Act

On May 24, 2018, President Trump signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (the Act) into law. The Act was introduced by Senator Mike Crapo, a Republican Senator from Idaho, in the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on November 16, 2017. The 73-page-long Act contains a short and sweet Section 508 entitled “Improving Access To Capital” that changes Regulation A in a big way.

Some Background

In mid-2015, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (Commission) amended Regulation A in order to expand the exemption from registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as mandated by the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, to enhance the ability of smaller companies to raise money. Regulation A allows companies to offer and sell securities to the public, but with more limited disclosure requirements than those that apply to full reporting companies under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act). In comparison to registered offerings, smaller companies in earlier stages of development are able to use this rule to more cost-effectively raise money.

Why Is This A Big Deal?

(1) Reporting Companies Will Be Able to Rely on Regulation A: Prior to the Act, reporting companies were prohibited from utilizing Regulation A to raise capital. The Act requires the Commission to finalize rules that amend 17 C.F.R. Section 230.251 to remove the requirement that the issuer not be subject to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act immediately before the offering. Therefore, reporting companies will be able to rely on Regulation A to raise capital.

(2) Reporting Companies Will Not Be Required To File Additional Reports: The Act requires that the Commission finalize rules that amend 17 C.F.R. 230.257 to deem reporting companies as having met the requirements of 17 C.F.R. 230.257. Therefore, reporting companies that already meet the reporting requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act do not need to file additional reports required under 17 C.F.R. 230.257.

When Will The Rules Be Finalized?

Rulemaking is the process by which federal agencies implement legislation by Congress that is then signed into law by the President. Rulemaking generally involves the following steps:

(1) Concept Release: The Commission issues a concept release when an issue is unique and complicated such that the Commission wants public input before issuing a proposed rule. The Act is very straightforward so the Commission will probably not issue a concept release and go straight to the next step.
(2) Rule Proposal: When approved by the Commission, a rule proposal is published for public notice and comment for a specified period of time, typically between 30 and 60 days. A rule proposal typically contains the text of the proposed new or amended rule along with a discussion of the issue or problem the proposal is designed to address. The public’s input on the proposal is considered as a final rule is drafted.
(3) Rule Adoption: When approved by the Commission, the new rule or rule amendment becomes part of the official rules that govern the securities industry. The new rule or rule amendment is in the form of an adopting release that reflects the Commission’s consideration of the public comments.

 

See the original article, published on our KorePartner’s blog here.

KorePartners Spotlight: Rod Turner, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Manhattan Street Capital

With the recent launch of the KoreConX all-in-one RegA+ platform, KoreConX is happy to feature the partners that contribute to its ecosystem.

Rod Turner is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Manhattan Street Capital, an online fundraising platform allowing companies to cost-effectively raise capital using Regulation A+, Regulation D, and other regulations, supporting them throughout the entire capital raising journey. The goal is to make it easier for investors to invest and for issuers to list their offerings. The popular term for the services provided by Manhattan Street Capital is “quarterbacking”; they are not the company raising money, but they bring all necessary services providers together and advise the company and marketing agencies on the nuances of raising money successfully. These services combine with the company’s offering platform which separates Issuer Clients into their own offering pages with rich features and deep instrumentation and integration with all marketing.

Before founding Manhattan Street Capital, Rod Turner founded 6 other successful tech startups. He has had extensive experience in the capital markets, from securing VC funding, IPOs listed on the NASDAQ, mergers and acquisitions, as well as building a VC fund with a colleague. This experience has led him to understand the power of RegA+ as a fundraising tool for startups and mid-sized companies.

I recognized pretty quickly that RegA+ is a phenomenally good fundraising instrument and that the regulations are really well-written, very pragmatically written, when it comes to implementing them. Which I was just really excited to see.”

Rod has seen many mature startups and mid-sized  companies  that are “strangled by the lack of access to growth capital” and sees RegA+ as very attractive solution for many of these companies Rod estimates that the scale of capital raised via Reg A+ may amount to $50-60 billion raised per year when it hits full stride. By getting involved in the industry, Rod wants to help solve this issue faced by companies and help them to secure the funding they need. “I want the whole industry to be very successful,” Rod said. RegA+ is continuing to expand rapidly, which will continue to open more opportunities for companies throughout the US.

At Manhattan Street Capital, Rod deeply analyzes the RegA+ industry to solve problems for his company and its clients. Each year, Rod and the Manhattan Street Capital team go through all the EDGAR filings with the SEC to assess the scale of RegA+. Rod likes to take a bigger picture approach so that he can solve problems that are not noticed by those that only focus on their specialty. 

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”

Effective Date of the Amendments to Reg CF and Reg A

The amendments to Reg CF, Reg A, and other rules relating to capital formation utilizing exempt offerings have finally been published in the Federal Register, with an effective date of March 15, 2021.