The debate surrounding the definition of an Accredited Investor always includes a discussion regarding the number of individuals in the United States who actually qualify. Recently Rachita Gullapalli, a financial analyst at the Division of Economic & Risk Analysis (DERA) at the SEC, put together a presentation estimating the number of households that qualify today.
The current definition requires an individual to earn $200,000 in salary ($300,000 if married) or have $1 million in net worth (excluding ones primary residence). There is an ongoing polemic as to who, or how, someone should qualify. Today if you are deemed an Accredited type you may choose to invest in certain private placement securities offerings such as equity in pre-IPO companies or commercial real estate investments. If you do not qualify you may run along and visit the public markets.
Virtually everyone agrees the definition is flawed. Some propose the hurdle should be higher, others lower, or not exist at all. Of course there is the option of allowing someone to be designated they qualify as Accredited if they indicate they have the capacity to understand risk and the underlaying elements of the security being offered.