Imagine doubling the number of DIY shares investors in the space of just a few months, during a recession, while jobs are on the line, and we're facing an unknown future because of a pandemic and lockdowns.
But you don't have to imagine, because that's exactly what's happened in New Zealand and around the world.
Figures from the FMA show 120,000 New Zealanders have signed up to online investing platforms since the first Covid-19 lockdown.
For context, the major platforms of Sharesies, Hatch, and InvestNow now have about 250,000 customers between them. Three-quarters of those users are aged 25-44.
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Let me say, up front, my first reaction to this is happiness.
I'm a big advocate for investing, and the freedom that you can build by sorting out your money.
But we also need to understand why this is happening, and the pros and cons of such a sudden explosion.
From the conversations I've had with both experts and new investors, there are common threads.
For starters, we were trapped indoors, worried about our futures, with plenty of time to start reading up on money management and the motivation to start experimenting with it.
If this crisis has spurred some people to pay more attention to their money, then that's a decent silver lining.
The problem is that when something like this becomes fashionable, you get a lot of snake oil popping up.
Like many things these days you need to be careful when looking for money tips online, and vet who you'll take advice from.
On the latest Cooking the Books podcast, Financial Markets Authority CEO Rob Everett said they'd seen a rise in dubious financial advice being spouted on YouTube and social media sites like Instagram.
"We've seen the explosion of chat rooms and social media around investing.
"The US has had [this for] quite a while, but it's quite new to New Zealand. It's been quite hard until now to find anyone talking about markets," he said.
"It does worry us. It plays into that broader issue of 'can you trust what you see on the internet', and frankly should half of what's on there really be on there.
"Most of what's in the chat rooms and social media sites, particularly in relation to specific stocks, you should ignore.
"Honestly, it may be well-intentioned, but it's certainly not very well-informed."
I've also seen worrying numbers of people confidently giving online tips for shares investing – much of it using outdated information, or disproven methods.
Talking about money in general is something to be encouraged and celebrated.
Just make sure you're also looking for information from reputable sources – the personal finance pages of the newspaper, books, and independent money educators like Sorted.
Even better if you take the time to speak to a financial advisor. Many of them will give you the first appointment for free, to see if you're a good fit.
Another big driver of the investing surge is people hoping to get a bargain.
Shares fell off a cliff back in March, and have since bounced back strongly. But the next year ahead looks rocky, and some are hoping to pick up investing bargains if the market takes another dive.
There's some truth in this. If you hold your nerve and buy a share while it's cheap, you're well placed to make money during the recovery.
That's why investing advice tends to bang on about the need to treat shares as a long-term investment, as the recovery can take months or years. You need the time up your sleeve to wait it out.
The problem is, the company might not recover, but could instead keel over entirely.
That's why there's a second classic piece of investing advice; to make sure you have "diversity", otherwise known as spreading your investments around.
Individual businesses can hit an unexpected crisis, but if you buy into hundreds of businesses through a fund, you won't be hurt so much by this.
Another factor is that, of course, property is going crazy. Still.
While many expected New Zealand's property market to fall after the impacts of Covid-19, so far it's been the opposite.
Just this week, national median house prices hit a new high of $685,000. Auckland's median price jumped to a record $955,000.
Home ownership increasingly feels out of reach to younger generations, a fact reflected in a rather surprising NZ Herald-Kantar Vote 2020 poll, which showed 52 per cent of New Zealanders now think house prices need to fall.
Just 6 per cent of Kiwis want them to rise.
So we're feeling the pressure of an extremely hot housing market, while shares have a lower barrier to entry.
Some of the online investing platforms ask for only a $5 minimum, while others range between $50 and $250 as a minimum.
That's a far more accessible way to start building wealth.
As long as the new investors keep some of these words of caution and tips in mind, I have just one thing to say to them: welcome.
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