CEO Letter

"Let us move forward together."
~ Winston Churchill ~

Welcome from Jeff Thomasson

Oxford Friends,

Greetings, and let me be the first to share that we at Oxford are just fine with 2020 being behind us and in the rear view mirror! Just as many of you, this last year “allowed” us to experience many emotions and feelings that we are sure we have not had during any part of our lifetimes, unless one is able to fully appreciate World War II. Of course, during WWII, every day was a new day; in a peculiar way, 2020 felt like that as well. Are you also tired of watching the news?

In preparation of this year’s Oxford Annual Report, we caught ourselves pondering about different themes that might take us back to previous periods of time where the world faced similar challenges, to see how we could learn and gain strength from these prior eras. One such historical reference that we all can relate to is the famous literary piece by Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

A Tale of Two Cities is an 1859 historical novel set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18-year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris and his release to live in London with his daughter Lucie, whom he had never met. The story is set against the conditions that led up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Dickens’ best-known work of historical fiction, A Tale of Two Cities, is regularly cited as the best-selling novel of all time! His famous opening sentence introduces the universal approach of the book, the French Revolution and the drama depicted within:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” In short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Does this Dickens novel sound relevant to your 2020? It does to ours at Oxford! This does not even include the “pleasure” of the elections!

Another relevant comparison of 2020 for us this year was offered by one of our Oxford colleagues as we were preparing for our 2021 Annual Report. This year may, in some ways, feel like the Blitz in Britain in 1940.

This COVID-19 year of 2020 is unlike anything that we have experienced. It has challenged our health, our emotions, our families, our finances, our daily way of life, our social interactions, our travel, our employment and perhaps even our self-confidence. When we were looking at a previous time in our nation (or world) when all of these notions previously held true, we thought of the Blitzkrieg (lightning war) that ran from September 1940 to May 1941. It was called the Blitz, for short, and it consisted of heavy and frequent bombing attacks on London and neighboring cities for 11 weeks as Nazi Germany DESTROYED two million homes, killed 32,000 Brits and seriously injured another 87,000. The Brits prayed for its ending. Churchill led with perseverance. Eventually it passed, but for many months the Londoners went to bed every night with pain and anxiety over what the next day had in store for them.

This unprecedented (that word sounds so familiar) period of time for the British was one of the most tragic times of their lives, including all the previous wars of the British Empire. Hitler was working daily to threaten the very essence of the lives and spirit and souls of British families. Thankfully, on a daily basis, Prime Minister Churchill embraced the Blitz, even occasionally to the admonishment of his own Parliament. As the Nazi’s were trying to bring Britain to its knees, with waves of planes pummeling their cities for 57 consecutive nights using highly explosive bombs and incendiary devices, Churchill endured.

During this time, the Prime Minister almost single-handedly willed his nation to stand tall. He rallied the English country as a “bulldog” and kept it from imminent defeat to stand bloodied by his passion for an unbowed island fortress of freedom. He did this in the wake of hundreds of bombs hitting British homes and churches and factories night after night. He exhibited the art of being fearless, even in the wake of some of his key lieutenants expressing skepticism. He was almost ecstatic to lead his country during such a difficult time because his leadership demonstrated to the world that he cared for his people and he was fearless. In that order. Further, he did not make people brave, he allowed their courage to come forward and showed them that fearlessness is a learned art!

This great leader provided his country and the world with inspiration during this tumultuous period of time. It is during times like 2020 that we should rely on previous leaders to help us lead, hopefully better than we might otherwise. This pandemic will pass. We will be stronger for it. It will soon become a memory. Of course, the tragedy, just like the Blitz, is the lost lives and lost friends. However, for sure, we will all be smarter, stronger and better leaders.

For myself, and speaking for the leaders of Oxford, we feel like this year has been a year of the Blitz. Pretty much everything that we have done for almost 40 years did not work the way that it did previously. We worked remotely for much of the year, becoming operationally remote within 24 hours. Some of our colleagues still have not returned to our offices and may not for many months. However, the good news is that our efficiency and effectiveness and Oxford Culture has never been stronger. Of course, I would not have even been qualified to carry Churchill’s briefcase, but speaking as the CEO of Oxford, in 40 years I have never been more proud of our entire organization! Our colleagues have conquered and they have done so in an unconditional manner! Rarely a day goes by that I do not receive an email from a client or advisor bragging about one of our colleagues at the firm, and that the Oxford friend wants me to know about this personally!

Between the COVID-19 health issues and the protests in some of our market cities, travel and meeting with advisors, clients and friends of the firm has been incredibly difficult and different than what we are accustomed to. To say that this year has been a challenge is nothing short of an understatement. This is the bad news. The good news is that we were able to immediately eliminate almost all of the firm’s discretionary expenses and provide full and complete employment for all of our colleagues without pay cuts or position eliminations. We have never been financially stronger as a firm. And delightfully, we paid all of them their maximum deserved bonuses due to our record year top and bottom lines! These Oxford associates truly deserve their bonuses given the tough year they have had with persistent concerns for the health of their families and their steadfast support of our firm. They immediately worked from home without losing a beat. They convened every day and every week to make sure that there were no gaps in our service delivery to our important client friends. Their responsiveness was outstanding. Their passion for our Oxford Friends and our organization was nothing short of sensational. I could go on and on, but you are getting the picture regarding how proud I am of them. Especially during this 2020 Blitz Year!

I am also blessed to report that despite the challenges, Oxford was named the #5 Largest Multi-Family Office in the World by Caproasia in 2020 and the #5 Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) by Financial Planning magazine in 2020.

In the rest of this Annual Report, you will hear about our truly significant technology initiatives. In addition, I am excited to share with you the further enhancement of our Family Office Services team with the addition of Jeremy Mertens, Senior Wealth Strategist and Family Office Fellow; our new Managing Director, Josiah Sears, a true leader and dynamic addition to the team; Catherine Farley, our new CFO of Oxford; and, our recently announced Chief Investment Officer and Oxford Investment Fellow, Robert “Bo” D. Ramsey, III. Bo joins us after a successful career as the Co-CIO of Private Equity Solutions with a significant individual family office in Southwest Florida. His meaningful expertise in Private Equity Solutions further enhances our Aspirational Solutions Team and will continue to reinforce our national Oxford Brand in the private markets space for our affluent families and institutional clients.

Thank you again, Oxford Friends, for supporting us (and referring us clients) this year. Hopefully you feel that the feeling is quite mutual! If not, please email me or call me personally as I want to make ALL of our Oxford relationships reciprocal and truly special to everyone. It is this attention to detail that has allowed us to approach our 40th Anniversary this coming May and has allowed us to be the fifth largest independent Registered Investment Advisor in the country, after previously being number one for five years running. These rankings, of course, make my Mom proud, but the real reason they are meaningful is that they allow us to hire and retain the best talent in the industry as well as provide significant “access” to investment and estate strategies nationally and globally.

With a vaccine likely to be widely distributed by June 2021, we anticipate an end to this pandemic is on the horizon! While we are all more than thankful to see COVID-19 come to an end, we want to hold on to the lessons this latest crisis has taught us. As we move toward our 40th year, we will continue to focus on what we can control, which is ensuring that our firm remains rock solid, financially stable and ready to tackle any future challenges we may face… and exceed your expectations!

Please enjoy our 2021 Annual Report,

Jeffrey H. Thomasson, MBA, CFP®
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

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The opinions expressed are those of Oxford Financial Group, Ltd. The opinions referenced are as of the date of the publication and are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions that may not necessarily come to pass.