Based upon recent secondary market pricing, investors in certain publicly registered, non-traded business development companies (“BDCs”), may have suffered losses on their illiquid investments. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, many retail investors have been steered into so-called non-conventional investments (“NCIs”), including non-traded REITs and BDCs, often premised upon a sales pitch or marketing presentation from a financial advisor touting the investment’s lack of correlation to stock market volatility and enhanced income via hefty distributions. Unfortunately, in some instances, investors were solicited to invest in such NCIs without first being fully informed of the risk components embedded in these products.
In January 2017, FINRA issued the following guidance with respect to investments in non-traded NCIs:
“While these products can be appropriate for some customers, certain non-traded REITs and unlisted BDCs, for example, may have high commissions and fees, be illiquid, have distributions that may include return of principal, have limited operating history, or present material credit risk arising from unrated or below investment grade products. Given these concerns, firms should make sure that they perform and supervise customer specific suitability determinations. More generally, firms should carefully evaluate their supervisory programs in light of the products they offer, the specific features of those products and the investors they serve.”