The Short Answer
An accredited investor is a natural person who EITHER has individual net worth, or joint net worth with the person's spouse, that exceeds $1 million, excluding the value of the primary residence of such person; OR a natural person with income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year. Finance professionals who are employed by banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions are usually considered accredited investors as well.
The Long Answer
This material is copied from Wikipedia.
Accredited investor is a term defined by various countries' securities laws that delineates investors permitted to invest in certain types of higher risk investments including seed money, limited partnerships, hedge funds, private placements, and angel investor networks. The term generally includes wealthy individuals and organizations such as banks, insurance companies, significant charities, some corporations, endowments, and retirement plans.
In the United States, for an individual to be considered an accredited investor, they must have a net worth of at least one million US dollars, not including the value of their primary residence or have income at least $200,000 each year for the last two years (or $300,000 together with their spouse if married) and have the expectation to make the same amount this year."
In Canada, the same prerequisites apply, however their net worth must be a minimum of one million dollars not including the value of their principal residence.
"The federal securities laws define the term accredited investor in Rule 501 of Regulation D and as amended by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act as:
- a bank, insurance company, registered investment company, business development company, or small business investment company;
- an employee benefit plan, within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, if a bank, insurance company, or registered investment adviser makes the investment decisions, or if the plan has total assets in excess of $5 million;
- a charitable organization, corporation, or partnership with assets exceeding $5 million;
- a director, executive officer, or general partner of the company selling the securities;
- a business in which all the equity owners are accredited investors;
- a natural person who has individual net worth, or joint net worth with the person's spouse, that exceeds $1 million at the time of the purchase, or has assets under management of $1 million or above, excluding the value of their primary residence;
- a natural person with income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year; or
- a trust with assets in excess of $5 million, not formed to acquire the securities offered, whose purchases a sophisticated person makes."