Crowdfunding as a means to raise funds for start-ups and other ventures gained popularity as a result of the passage of the JOBS Act and the finalization of the SEC rules regarding crowdfunding. Crowdfunding investments inside of a self-directed IRA can be a great way for investors to invest in companies seeking funding via crowdfunding.
What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a way to raise money for a variety of investment opportunities ranging from investments in start-up companies to debt financing opportunities and many other types of investments.
Investment crowdfunding sites make it easy for investors to invest in a variety of start-up companies, and other ventures seeking funding. Some sites require an initial investment as low as $20, others may require $5,000 – $10,000 to get started.
The JOBS Act also served to make it easier for non-accredited investors to invest in these start-ups.
Why invest in crowdfunding opportunities?
The JOBS Act has allowed investors of all sizes the ability to invest in start-up ventures via private debt and private equity investments. Previously these types of private investments were only available to large accredited investors and to institutions like pensions, foundations and endowments.
Investing in private companies including start-ups as a debt or equity investor is risky in that a number of these companies may not be successful. On the other hand, many of today’s large companies began as start-ups so the potential for gains on these investments can be substantial.
Equity crowdfunding platforms take a very traditional path to fundraising for start-ups. The company looking for funding trades a portion of its equity for the influx of capital that it needs. If the company does well, you could potentially benefit as a shareholder.
Debt crowdfunding is common for start-ups. Sometimes this debt comes in the form of convertible notes that can be converted to equity in the company at a future date. Debt issued by these companies can be a bit riskier, but this debt generally carries a higher interest rate to compensate investors. In the case of a convertible note, this can be an added sweetener to the deal.
Why crowdfunding investments make sense in a self-directed IRA
For many investors, their retirement plan accounts are filled with traditional investments like individual stocks and bonds, mutual funds and ETFs. Investing via a crowdfunding platform offers a level of diversification for your retirement investments away from these more traditional investments and asset classes.
Any interest earned via an investment in debt crowdfunding would remain tax-deferred (or tax-free in the case of a Roth account). Likewise, with any dividends or realized capital gains from an equity crowdfunding investment.
Crowdfunding investments often do not offer the liquidity of an investment in a public company, mutual fund or ETF. These investments may take some time to pan out and the ability to sell your investment may be limited. This can be a good fit with your timeframe for using your retirement funds, making this type of investment inside of a self-directed IRA more appropriate than an investment made with taxable funds for many investors.
What to know
It’s important to vet any crowdfunding platform that you may be considering for an investment.
• Who is running the platform and what is their level of experience and expertise in this arena?
• What steps does management take in performing their due diligence on the companies they allow on the platform?
• Understand what you are investing in, including the potential risks and rewards of a crowdfunding investment.
• What is the exit strategy for your investment? Each platform operates a bit differently.
Evaluating investment crowdfunding opportunities can involve several layers of due diligence. Take your time and enlist the help of your trusted financial and tax advisors when needed. When considering the best possible investment opportunities for your retirement savings, mitigating the risks involved is as important as any potential gains on the investment.
Crowdfunding represents a great opportunity to diversify your retirement investments. Consult with your financial advisor for more insights as to how crowdfunding might fit with your overall investing strategy.
There are specific documents needed to invest in any alternative investment through a self-directed retirement account. Investment direction and other necessary forms are easily accessible on our website, and our knowledgeable, experienced associates can help you each step of the way.
STRATA provides a clear path for investors to better control their financial future with crowdfunding and other alternative investments. Contact us to learn more about the investment possibilities available for self-directed IRA accounts.