What is a 'Sophisticated Investor'

A sophisticated investor is a type of investor who is deemed to have sufficient investing experience and knowledge to weigh the risks and merits of an investment opportunity.

For certain purposes, net worth and income restrictions must be met before a person can be classified a sophisticated investor. The distinction makes an investor eligible to buy into certain investment opportunities, such as pre-IPO securities, that are considered "non-disclosure" or "non-prospectus" issues. Typically, a sophisticated investor must have either a net worth of $2.5 million or have earned more than $250,000 in the past two years to qualify.

BREAKING DOWN 'Sophisticated Investor'

Sophisticated investors may have to prove their net worth prior to being eligible to purchase certain security types. Investors will often have their personal accountants send this proof to the brokerage firm. Sophisticated investors are the dream clients of most financial services firms, as they generate much higher fees than retail investors.

Certain assumptions are made about sophisticated investors: that they can hold their investments indefinitely (the funds do not need to be liquidated for cash needs), and they can assume a total loss of investment principal without causing severe damage to their overall net worth.

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