Late to the debate but have to register MY ..opinion. My OPINION only.
I consider it to be one of the worst innovations in the "hobby."
I agree completely and wholeheartedly with those saying how brilliant the BUSINESS PLAN is/was. Pure genius in fact.
In my OPINION, we have conferred on one man (who does no grading) the power to decide just how GOOD the grade is. If it's in the top 2/3 of the grade per...his...opinion, then approval is granted. If not, well then the coin will have... and in reality already HAS HAD.... an inferred negative inference as to its MARKET PRICE.
I just sold an 1848-CAL quarter eagle that had such NICE color that it brought a record price "for its grade" ....but.... I can't even count the number of queries I got asking it it had been "approved." So that tells ME that whether or not it has been "blessed" affects ...desirability.... to BUYERS. Rightly or wrongly, that's an observable fact.
I base this on another observation that NEW collectors and "the public" in general want, desire, hope for, accept and NEED .....advice ... in order to make decisions.
It's not something that ...I...want to deal with.
You may be the best "unofficial" grader on earth. You may have more time in the arena than most collectors. But YOUR opinion will remain only YOURS without an "outside" approval.
So MY ....actual program has persuaded me to SELL almost every coin I have that is NOT APPROVED! Silly? Maybe. But it's what I did.
My PRESENT practice is to buy whenever possible a coin ALREADY APPROVED and remove at least one possible hoop for it to jump through if I decide to no longer own it. I also have a STRINGENT requirement that the approved piece being considered is also EYE APPEALING TO ME !!! So, the approval alone won't dictate whether I buy a coin or not.
My ...advice... (if even solicited) is to give yourself the least grief possible in pursuit of an enjoyable "hobby" and thus keep it a valued activity. I don't consider approval to be so important in the arena of GOLD coins. As a former dealer I can vividly recall the competition to buy GOLD coins whenever and wherever because they ARE LIQUID.. Gold sells. Day in, day out.....gold sells easily. To a WIDE base of buyers. But NON gold coins appeal to a more specialized and PERSONAL ...hobbyist. And there is where "approval" becomes a necessity to them.
I base this OPINION as I have written it on personally observed TRENDS and as in the stock market (which coins definitely are NOT) fighting a "trend" is a discouraged practice by every financial person I know.
Pan this post or applaud it; it matters not to me. It's MY OBSERVATIONS that have formed MY actions.
Having fun with your coins should be your ultimate objective.
In MY opinion.