Welcome from our CEO
Letter from Jeff
At this time last year – weary from our battle with an unseen, yet dominating, enemy that brought the world to its knees – I related our battle against COVID-19 to the trials and travails of Winston Churchill, the venerable British Prime Minister who was relentless in supporting the Allied forces against evil in World War II.
As I sat down in late 2021 to reflect upon the united front to beat back COVID-19 from its 2020 peaks, I again considered the comparisons to Churchill. In particular, I pondered his tenacity in fighting back Hitler and his Nazi regime. He told them, literally, to “go to hell” as he forged the Allies forward to victory.
I could only imagine that Churchill, much like the business leaders of today who ponder their own bold triumph, allowed himself a moment of reflection, thrust his arms skyward and said, “We did it!”
For us here at Oxford, we too feel these three words, genius in their simplicity, reflect our relief in emerging from the depths of a global pandemic. We spent the past two years on the field of battle with our clients and friends and I am extremely gratified with how our colleagues responded to the era of COVID-19.
We don’t take lightly the cost extracted by the disease as we fought to protect our clients’ interests or the casualties in the form of friends and family whom we lost as part of the more than 800,000 in the US who unfortunately paid the ultimate price. We know as we celebrate our triumph that we do so standing atop a mountain of pain and anguish that those close to us had to withstand in order to arrive on the other side.
For Oxford, this was a hands-on effort that required us to dig deep. This wasn’t a five day a week effort, it was six and sometimes seven days, often 12-hour days, as we threw ourselves into protecting your interests in an unpredictable and wildly-affected market.
A Historical Perspective
Though the pandemic delivered unique challenges, it was a prospect not entirely unfamiliar to us here at Oxford. In the 40 years since I started Oxford there have been at least a half-dozen periods of time that were staggering to deal with like the 1987 market crash and the 2008-2009 financial disaster, to name just two examples. It seemed like the sky was falling, and it would involve dynamic and skillful efforts on behalf of our colleagues to successfully navigate.
In the wake of COVID-19 (a battle, by the way, not quite won, but one could fathom that we are through the worst of it), we again have arrived in uncharted territory with a new cast of themes dominating the financial climate. It will again take persistence and tenacity to navigate the battle-worn landscape; I am proud to say that our team, already battle-tested, is fully up to the challenge!
When we face economic turmoil we don’t just call upon recent history. We look at 2,000 years of how leadership faced and conquered challenges. Whether the head of an organization or foot soldiers, history delivers valuable lessons to all, and none more important than this: This, too, shall pass. And though you will have many days that seem unfamiliar and new, your adaptation to change will help build confidence, self-esteem and more objective judgment as you face the NEXT realities of the times.
Whether it’s a partnership, a financial organization, a child, a marriage or a business relationship, sometimes you have to push, pull and claw your way into the paradigm in order to see your way through to the end. Along the way, you have to do the things that are necessary to reinforce that acting. As such, the tenacity becomes a habit, and then the new normal, until it forms the basis of your response to the next crisis of the moment.
The Oxford Difference
As we at Oxford have arrived at this moment, we are now taking stock of what we have done to get here and how to deploy those previous experiences to build a new foundation. For us, there is a unique, and additional, consideration in how we withstand difficult times…our culture of close connectedness with you, our clients. It is indeed not trite for us to relate this connection to being like family…to both our family and institutional clients. We hope, as we have kept close during these times of strife, you have felt that we have been a voice of reassurance.
We at Oxford have had a seat at the table with our over 700 client families and discriminating institutional clients during times of grace and times of turmoil, whether a global event like COVID-19, or something more localized and deeply personal. We appreciate the trust you have put in us as we interpret these events, measured in financial impacts, and provide a level of color and counsel that is unmatched by the more transactionally-focused private banks and big brokerages, who are basically in the asset gathering business.
One gauge of how transcendent this level of intimate counsel has been is how well protected our clients have been during COVID-19. About a decade ago, we made a policy decision firm-wide to encourage all of our clients to stockpile between five and ten years of liquidity needs into what we call a “safety bucket” – investment choices that don’t gyrate with the stock market.
Though COVID-19 has indeed extracted a toll that is at times hard to quantify (or believe), we are pleased to say that our clients were able to rely on a foundation to cover their liquidity needs. This allowed them to practice patience while a volatile and erratic market settled down once and for all.
It was at this point that our second strategy came into play, a plan to buy investment vehicles at a discount once the markets dropped 20, 30 or even 40 percent, as they did in the early days of the pandemic. For the clients who could do this, many have been richly rewarded – with returns of between 30 and 50 percent year-over-year.
Additionally, a truly significant number of our clients have also participated in our robust private equity solutions over the last 20 years, and they too have been richly rewarded regarding same. Our commitment to this space has been tripled in the last decade, and is one of our truly unique differentiators in the industry nationally.
So, as I shared previously, we have arrived at new territory. Shifting political winds, global supply concerns and overheated inflation have again transformed the dynamic, requiring a mindset and strategic shift. We again have called upon history to make appropriate recommendations to our clients, whether it’s to take advantage of sunsetting tax strategies or to roll out new trust techniques to conquer estate and income tax saving accounts.
We are able to make these recommendations with confidence, because of our deep and historic level of expertise firm-wide, as well as the intimate relationship we have built with our clients. Though it is written all over our website and materials it bears repeating again: We don’t receive any commissions. We don’t receive any finders fees or spreads. We don’t participate in sponsor fees. We are a fee-only advisory firm that does what we do solely for the benefit of our clients. This is completely unique compared to our competitive friends in the private bank and brokerage firm space.
For me, this is why I am able to be eternally optimistic about our ability to rise above and take our clients along on the journey. We can do so because of our culture, our teamwork, our collaboration and our thoughtfulness as we deliver multigenerational investment solutions and family office services to the institutions and families we support, and Oxford is in a position to continue this for generations to come.
Jeffrey H. Thomasson, MBA, CFP®
Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director
Jeffrey H. Thomasson, MBA, CFP®
Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director