The JOBS Act is now four years old and the crowdfunding industry is beginning to mature. SmartBrief met with Crowdfunder Co-Founder and CEO Chance Barnett and newly minted President and COO Steven McClurg earlier this week at the Milken Institute Global Conference to hear their thoughts on the JOBS Act and trends in venture capital. The pair also shared their insights on the VC Index Fund the firm launched last month.

Tell us a bit about the origins of the VC Index Fund that Crowdfunder just unveiled?

Chance Barnett: First I will start with the problem that is solves and then I will talk about the really big opportunity.

The problem it solves in that this new world of equity crowdfunding and platforms; how do you know what you are investing in? If you are an investor sitting at home who for the first time gets access to investing in new deals and entrepreneurs at a super early stage, it is hard to be certain. (read more…)

For startups looking for funding, the Milken Institute Global Conference is not a bad place to be to learn from some of the most creative minds in the venture capital industry. The conference featured a colorful panel discussion entitled How New Investors Are Influencing Venture Capital. SmartBrief chatted with Dave McClure, founding partner of 500 Startups, after the session to hear more of his thoughts on the current VC landscape.

There was a lot of talk during the panel about whether or not we are in the middle of a VC bubble in the US, but you said you are more concerned about China. Why?

I would love to be investing in China. There are great entrepreneurs there, but I think $#!+ is overvalued. It is starting to calm down a little bit now. The public market in China blew up during the last year or so. The private markets are still a little crazy, but maybe that will calm down enough for us to jump in more frequently next year. (read more…)

The economy is on the mind of virtually every American these days. CME Group Managing Director and Chief Economist was on hand Tuesday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., to participate in the “U.S. Overview: Will Recovery Prevail?” panel (scroll down for video of the session). SmartBrief caught up with Putnam after the panel to talk commodities and other factors that are bound to impact the U.S. and global economy.

What impact will the strategic plan released recently by Saudi Arabia have on global oil markets?

What we are learning about the Middle East is that they planned for $80-$100 per barrel oil prices forever. Now with prices at $40 or $45, they are really hurting. The Saudis actually had to go borrow money, and that hasn’t happened in forever. These countries are basically producing flat-out and we are going to see even more production with Iraq and Iran coming into the market. (read more…)

The direct participation program industry appears poised for strong growth as a dynamic environment lies ahead for its products, say Investment Program Association Chairman Tom Sittema, CEO of CNL Financial Group, and Chair-elect Mitchell Sabshon, president and CEO of Inland Real Estate Investment Corp.

Sittema and Sabshon also discuss their commitment to the IPA and the association’s importance to the industry. (read more…)

The potential effects and industry responses to the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule were addressed along with tax-reform issues in a panel including partner organizations of the Investment Program Association at the IPA’s 2016 Executive Leadership Summit, held in Washington, D.C., on April 19.

Dale Brown, president and CEO of the Financial Services Institute, discussed his assessment of the Labor Department’s final fiduciary rule.

“This industry certainly at least wins to live another day,” because its advocacy led to the elimination of a list of specified assets that could be sold to holders of individual retirement accounts, he said.

Brown said it’s too early to understand the fiduciary rule’s full impact, although the Labor Department appears to top the list of “winners” in the aftermath, because it emerged with a rule that will have a dramatic near-term effect in how retirement is given. (read more…)