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Australians don’t want to be protected from investing in startups, says new poll

M8 ventures 3 mins read

SYDNEY 10 May 2024 -  A majority of Australians would support dropping the financial limitations on startup investors, in favour of an easily accessible education course. 

 

Research conducted by DemosAU, in consultation with M8 Ventures, of 1087 respondents nationwide between April 15 and May 1, showed 53% of respondents supported replacing the current financial tests for startup investors with an accessible education program such as a TAFE course to make sure they understand the essentials of startup investing and the risks involved.

 

By contrast, only 35% of respondents favoured keeping the current laws to preserve the distinction between wholesale and retail investors.

 

In addition, the poll also showed majority support (56%) for lowering the current financial threshold for startup investors, while 52% believed there should be no restrictions in place at all.

 

Respondents were given a neutral explanation of the current legal situation surrounding the wholesale investor test for startup investors, and asked whether they agreed or disagreed with four statements relating to the present situation and alternatives.

 

DemosAU Head of Research George Hasanakos said the results showed community sentiment was generally in favour of widening access to startup investing.

 

“There is a general view that people should be allowed to invest their money how they like, though there is also support for safeguards like an education course,” he said.

 

The survey results run in contrast to the Albanese Government’s reported plans to lift the threshold for wholesale investors but generally support the recommendations provided to the government by the startup industry itself in submissions to the parliamentary inquiry into wholesale investor test criteria, which is open for submissions until 15 May.

 

Currently, individuals must have at least $2.5m in assets or an income of at least $250,000 over two years to be considered wholesale investors. The government has proposed increasing the asset threshold to $4.5m.

 

M8 Ventures Partner Alan Jones said the current debate over where to set the financial barrier for access to angel investing was missing the point. 

 

“I think any reasonable person would agree that it’s crazy that we block ordinary Australians from opportunities to generate wealth by investing in early stage businesses with genuine growth potential.”

 

“It’s much harder to invest in genuine growing business in this country than it is to invest in high risk investments like cryptocurrencies, which have no underlying value.”

 

“The reality is that blocking off access to startups is pushing risk tolerant investors who have modest means but are looking to grow their wealth towards asset classes that are far less robust.”

 

“Anthony Albanese and Labor often talk about helping working people to build a better future for themselves. Restricting access to startups goes against that ambition.

 

“Our start-up ecosystem has helped establish world-beating companies like Canva and Atlassian that have generated huge levels of wealth for investors. Surely it goes against Labor values to reserve these opportunities for the financial elite.

 

“Labor has a track record to be proud of when it comes to opening up access to wealth generation opportunities to working Australians, especially the creation of our world-leading superannuation scheme during the Hawke-Keating era. 

 

“All the start-up community is asking for is that they start to view this issue through that same prism.

 

“Investing in startups certainly isn't for everyone - there are risks to be considered and managed, but is it really fair to say that the only people “sophisticated” enough to comprehend those risks are those who come from wealth?”

 

“Under both the current rules and the proposed changes, an individual who has inherited a few million dollars is free to invest in early stage businesses, regardless of their financial literacy, while someone from a middle or working class background who is willing to put in the time and effort into properly scrutinising opportunities is excluded simply because they don’t have inherited wealth. We say sorry, but you weren’t born a major shareholder of the Bank of Mum and Dad.”

 

“There is a better, and fairer, way. We urge the government to not only abandon its proposed changes but to consider replacing the current wholesale investor test from one based on assets to one based on financial literacy,” he said.

 

“We propose a system where interested investors, regardless of their background, back undertake an easily accessible course that will provide them with the knowledge and skills to invest in early stage businesses.”

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

 

Alan Jones

alan.jones@m8.ventures

0414 987 069

 

To access the full report:

Evan Schwarten

evan@demosau.com

0411 663 685

 

##ENDS

—---


Key Facts:

53% of respondents supported replacing the current financial tests for startup investors with an accessible education program such as a TAFE course.

 

Only 35% of respondents favoured keeping the current laws to preserve the distinction between wholesale and retail investors.


About us:

M8 Ventures is a venture fund and angel syndicate manager investing in the best product-led startups from Australia and NZ. More about M8 Ventures at http://m8.ventures


Contact details:

Alan Jones

alan.jones@m8.ventures

0414 987 069

 

To access the full report:

Evan Schwarten

evan@demosau.com

0411 663 685

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