In a vote on Wednesday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission allowed hedge funds to advertise to the general public for the first time, the Associated Press reports.
Still, only accredited investors -- defined as those worth more than $1 million or who earn more than $200,000 annually -- will actually be able to buy the securities that hedge funds offer. That makes up only about 7.8 percent of U.S. households.
New SEC Chairman Mary Jo White backed the change, noting that the move was mandated in the jobs act passed by Congress in April 2012. She pledged to closely monitor the effects of lifting the ban, to gauge whether it increased fraud in private markets, according to a statement.
One of the five SEC commissioners voted against the move, warning that lifting the ban places investors at risk.
In the same monthly meeting, the SEC also considered whether to disqualify felons from selling certain securities on private markets.