The sudden drop in global share markets as a result of the covid-19 pandemic might have sent shivers down your spine. The mere thought of all those portfolios tumbling into the abyss is certainly a scary one, but the flipside of that familiar saying is that what does down must come up. It’s a good time for beginners. If you’re new to investing in shares, then the fall in prices could work out really well for you. There’s a lot of shares floating around the market that have lost value in recent months and most of them are going to recover before much longer. This is why it’s important, if you’re planning to invest, to decide which ones you want to buy and then buy them. Look at the market performance as a whole. While it’s impossible to predict accurately all of the time how a particular stock is going to perform within the next month, day or even hour, as a whole, the values of stocks rise. Some fall forever, of course, companies fold, technology becomes obsolete, but these can be seen almost as running costs if you have a balanced and decent–sized portfolio. Even after a big crash, markets recover eventually; sometimes it takes a few years, but it’s actually having long–term aims that will make you a successful investor. It’s possible that some shares will drop even further after you buy them, but this doesn’t mean they’ll fall forever. Most drops are temporary and if you spread out your shares into different sectors and industries, you’ll see some rise and some fall; hopefully you’ll see a net gain over time. The key to succeeding in investment is to let time do most of the work for you. As long as you recognise a good time to buy into a particular stock and when to let it go, the market will do the rest for you. Are you ready to buy shares? You might have seen that the ASX dropped by 37 per cent at the start of the covid-19 pandemic and, all things being perfect, this fall in value does make it a great time to buy shares. However, it’s not entirely about the market. You, your personal financial circumstances and your short and long–term aims also matter. What exactly are your aims? You need to think about your aims and your timescales. If your goals are more short–term, maybe two or three years into the future, then it’s possible that shares might not be your best investment choice. In your circumstances, you might be better off with a term deposit or an at–call saver account. Investing for a couple of years might work well if you’re lucky, but you might not want to rely on luck and instead ride out any market ups and downs in order to see some decent returns. How are your finances? If you have debts, then you need to reduce these before making any long–term investments. Are you good at putting money aside? If there’s some kind of emergency, you have access to funds other than the money you intend to invest? How’s your risk tolerance? Possibly the biggest question you need to ask yourself is how comfortable you are with the risks involved with investment. If you see your shares taking a dive, are you likely to panic and sell them, or do you have the nerve to wait out the storm? It’s not always plain sailing and you’ll see your favourite stocks plummeting at some point… The truth is, however, that these losses only become real when you sell them. Otherwise, they’re just numbers on a spreadsheet and these numbers can change quite rapidly. You will lose some money, but then again, you’ll gain some and if you’re patient, you should see a net gain. Can you afford to add to your portfolio regularly? As every investor knows, adding to your portfolio and spreading your money around over lots of sectors and companies is the best way to manage your risk and also to get returns. If you can buy some new shares every month, or every other month, and not dump them when they take a downturn, then you’ll stand the best chance of success. Interesting observations in July 2020. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare: ASX FPH. In May 2019, FPH shares were $14.50 apiece, but in July 2020, this price had almost doubled to $28.66. What’s interesting is that this rise started back in August 2019, long before the covid-19 outbreak, and so it’s due partly to the company’s existing revenue growth. FPH specialises in medical ventilators, so the chances are that both the governmental and the private healthcare sectors will want to carry on buying into this company to make sure they’re prepared for a second coronavirus wave. Even if there’s no second wave (hopefully there won’t be), covid-19 may be with us for a while and so the need for ventilators isn’t going to drop any time soon. EML Payments: ASX EML. EML Payments is a financial services company that offers products like rewards and gifts cards. EML has seen some growth in share prices after a record year–on–year revenue and earnings increase. In August 2019 this stock was trading at $3.60 and now it’s at $4.40 – an increase of 22 per cent. With the increased uptake of cashless payments and online shopping, it’s likely that payment services like EML will continue to do well for the next few years.