In this Review of The Oxford Communiqué we will tell you that the service has existed since 1999. It is part of The Agora/Oxford Club group our readers know well about. If not, you can access some more info in GreenBull's earlier article written by our Editor.
OC claims to be one of the 10 top investment newsletters for the last 15 years, with more than 350.000 readers (elsewhere, it says 157.000 members in 130 countries). Yet somewhere else, it says 110.000. It really makes no difference, does it?
It promises to help grow and protect the wealth of its members by sending monthly newsletters with advice on stocks, including dividend stocks, and to a lesser extent, bonds. It focused on longer-term investments that did not require frequent changes and adjustments.
Specifically, in today's challenging bear market environment and with losses in portfolios, they show a shorter-term outlook and cater more to investors who need to see quick positive results after the lousy year a lot of us have suffered. It is not so much "grow and protect" now, but rather "recuperate, then grow and protect your wealth" (my words).
We will inform you to what extent OC has been successful in its mission, whether there is a distance between promise and delivery, and how large it is. Also, is there a chance of this gap being closed sometime soon?
- Name: The Oxford Communiqué
- Publishers: The Oxford Club
- Editors: Alexander Green, Marc Lichtenfeld and Team
- Website: https://www.oxfordcommunique.com
- Service: Entry-level investment advisory with several monthly newsletters, beginning with the one that gives the service its name
- Annual subscription fee: $249
- Refund Policy: One-year money-back cash guarantee, no questions asked.
WHO IS BEHIND THE OXFORD COMMUNIQUÉ?
OC's two leading executives are:
Alexander Green. Chief Investment Strategist.
A very likable, surprisingly modest, and private person who, after unexceptional years in college (his words, mind you) and time spent waiting tables doing typical "youngsters-without-money" kind of jobs, he got himself a real estate license and began selling time-shares which were popular at that time.
There he learned from his "master salesman" colleagues that sales is an art and that copywriting is an essential part of that art; it is selling in print.
Green started in the securities industry/money management business/Wall Street in 1985. This was with a tiny stockbroker with seven employees, where he later became its one-person research "department."
Alex must have been hugely successful. Proof of this is that in 1999 he was offered a job at The Oxford Club, where he has worked since that "first day of the rest of my life." He says he "retired" at 43, and works and writes when he chooses to, where he reports to nobody and where he has achieved financial and personal freedom—the same financial and personal freedom he wants for his clients.
In fact, he is more of a writer than a licensed investment adviser. Thus, he can give advice freely, write what he wants about the market, and be objective in his recommendations.
He has written "on the side" several books, four of which became Amazon bestsellers.
- The jewel of the crown: The Gone Fishin´ Portfolio, get wise, get wealthy and get on with your life, revised and expanded in 2021 with a new foreword by non-other than Bill O'Reilly. Rated 4,7 at Amazon/Kindle (out of 232 qualifications).
- An Embarrassment of Riches: Tapping into the World's Greatest Legacy of Wealth. Rated 4,3.
- The Secret of Shelter Island, Money and what matters.
- Beyond Wealth: The Road Map to a rich life.
I read he has a net worth of $20 MM (never from the horse's mouth - he is too modest and private for that). But he did say, jokingly: "the first newsletter I wrote brought in $1 MM. You write about a $1.000-product and sell it to 1.000 people, that's 1 MM". See? - easy!
As a content and copywriter, I suspect Alex owes much of his success more from being a first class writer than to his research and investment advice. His copy is superb, and with his sales savvy, many readers have been seduced and probably have registered for more advisory services than they really wanted.
Marc Lichtenfeld. Chief Income Strategist.
Marc is an income expert specializing in dividend stocks. He is one of the people in the market who knows most about these stocks, and bonds.
A former Wall Street analyst and business journalist. His bestseller Get rich on Dividends: A proven system for earning double-digit returns is in its second edition. Furthermore, in 2015 it became Book of the Year by the Institute of Financial Literacy. You'll find it on Amazon as well.
What Marc is most passionate about are stocks with high-yield dividends that, additionally, have increased consistently over many years. This, together with the "compounding miracle," has made many people rich and wealthy people richer.
WHAT THEY PROMISE
I subscribed to The Oxford Communiqué service in May 2021 for $99/year and upgraded for an additional $49 for the same period. The cost is among the lowest in the market, and it came with a 365-day cash guarantee for the first year. However, it seems that the cost for one year is in the meantime $249.
For that money, I received:
- The namesake monthly Newsletter, with one to three recommendations each time.
- Weekly email alerts.
- Support by the Member Service Team.
- Another weekly briefing/newsletter called "Oxford Insight."
- Free access to Liberty through Wealth, and Wealthy Retirement, both by Marc Lichtenfeld, on how to achieve a wealthy retirement.
- A market wake-up-call on Sundays.
- Additionally: A five-part model portfolio.
For instance, this is what appears on my members-only webpage at the time this review was written (Dec. 2022):
The Gone Fishing portfolio. "A simple but sophisticated long-term investment system based on a Nobel-Price-winning strategy." No trailing stops here. "Buy them and forget about them - Go fishing!" That is not entirely true: the portfolio requires annual rebalancing, explained here.
We are speaking of Mutual Funds and ETFs. OC recommends Vanguard funds exclusively. That is a reputable organization.
Note that there are ten positions: nine were bought in 2003, and only one in 2020, so the percentages of gain (over 19 years for all except the last one) are not impressive. Let us do the math:
$100 over 19 years compounding with a theoretical annual average percentage gain translates to:
- 121 at 1 percent
- 146 at 2 percent
- 177 at 3 percent
- 214 at 4 percent
- 258 at 5 percent
- 312 at 6 percent
- 377 at 7 percent
- 455 at 8 percent
- 549 at 9 percent
- 663 at 10 percent
No need to go further.
The Oxford All-Star portfolio gathers funds and holding companies managed by some of the world's top-performing money managers. Not too impressive either. How happy would you be?
The Oxford Trading portfolio. It contains active and diversified stocks of the market's most compelling opportunities. Trailing stops of 25 percent here, all around. Most are quite new and look good but, we do not see the closed positions and their corresponding gains or losses.
The Ten-Baggers of Tomorrow portfolio includes more speculative stocks with the potential to rise in value up to ten times. I think this is what others would call "moonshots." No trailing stops here. You will get alerts when needed.
The two most recent positions have done the worst: losers! The other three: so-so. Maybe I am not in a cheerful mood. Perhaps tomorrow doesn't come that soon.
The original four portfolios were complemented, in July 2022, by The Fortress portfolio, consisting of eight Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), and that works like this:
After designating a particular total amount, you invest 12,5 percent of the total in each of the funds. No trailing stops. As with the Gone Fishin' portfolio, you will have to rebalance annually. These are all funds/ETFs on sectors, except one on convertible securities.
The following pitches and advice accompany these five portfolios:
- The Oxford Club has crushed the S&P over the last 20 years. "Since inception, it has outperformed the S&P by almost 400 percent".
- Never put a large percentage in one play/recommendation; only a tiny portion of your total wealth in each instance.
- Get the government to pay your property taxes for you. There are critical instant returns to be had on your 401(k). I cannot review that part of their pitch and suggest what OC recommends: check with your tax adviser.
- Analyze businesses, not the market. Look at individual companies, and visualize firms as "problem solvers."
- Do not invest in some self-styled experts'/guru's economic forecasts, as it is impossible to predict the next gyrations. The big question is not: Where will the market go next? but, how can I get the highest return with the least risk? How can I protect principals and profits? What can I do to guarantee my portfolio will be worth more in the future?
In truth, I do not believe the nobody-can-predict-the-market statement: OC can and did precisely that, often. It does and did and should outline critical data weeks ahead. It does and did and should share expectations on how events could impact. It does and did and should continue giving insights on how you can position yourself.
- Divide your portfolio across asset classes: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, precious metals, etc. Also: Across different market sectors. Mix long and short-term strategies. Allocate assets and strategies according to the "Wealth Pyramid" . (Go with the link and click on Pillar 1).
- Stay disciplined and fully invested.
- Cut expenses to a minimum. Use online brokers that usually charge zero commissions.
- Always tax manage.
Finally, Alex points out that his company forbids their writers to have a financial interest in the securities they recommend. This principle, however, has changed from the moment they launched an Upgrade to the OC service.
WHAT THEY DELIVER
Well, folks, up to now I have commented on what our reviewed service PROMISES. Now to see what they DELIVERED.
Let's go :
To be honest: I did not follow many of Alex's recommendations, so, not having yet achieved the "rich life" he promises is not entirely his fault, is it?
Being in the advisory review business, I follow and analyze perhaps too many different services.
That is not the situation of the average reader who reads an advisory review like the present one. He does not want to sit at a computer for hours daily, reading and comparing different investment options. He doesn't have the time or the inclination to do so.
If this were the ONLY advisory service I subscribed to, how many of the promises did it deliver, what would I have gotten out of it, and where would my portfolio stand now after a year and a half?
I tried to compare the portfolio at the moment I began with my subscription (May 2021), with the one I see now in December 2022.
This exercise is somewhat sterile, as I can only see the open positions in each instance; not the closed items and their results, specially for the Oxford Trading and the Ten-Bagger portfolios. If I want to do a thorough analysis, I would need access to this information.
Is this opacity is by design? I believe so.
Now I compare the open positions in my portfolio that I printed out (dated July 19, 2021) close to the beginning of my subscription, with the snapshots above. Please forgive my anti-diluvian copy and paste technique, but I had no other choice. I'm somehow proud of it, though.
In Narnia, I would also have that information for the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022 because of the rebalancing on the Gone Fishin´ and Fortress portfolios. But I cannot pull up that information for an earlier date.
So it has to be July 2021 vs. now:
The ten positions and their respective allocations now (see above) are the same. One has been exited (when?) and re-entered in January 2020. All gains are lower now than 17 months ago, three less than ten percentage points, the other seven between 12,7 and 99,7. Meaning all lost part of the luster they showed then. Still, all are net winners. The best with an average annual gain of somewhere between nine and ten percent, the worst with far below one percent.
In May 2021 there were ten positions, now we see nine. Of the original ones, only three remain on the list, showing very important gains since then. Of the remaining six, three (all relatively new) stayed roughly even. Three positions (one entered end 2021 and two only very recently) show very important gains.
The seven positions now are the same as in May 2021. One is roughly even, of the other six two have gone up (one 66,5 percentage points, the other a very impressive 255,4!) the remaining four have gone down, two with less than 10,0 percentage points, one with 61,3 and another with an important 92,9.
There you see that famous investors/companies have not escaped the 2022 bloodbath. Still, all are net winners. And with results not unlike the Gone Fishin' portfolio´s.
Ten-Baggers of Tomorrow
The six positions were reduced to five. Only three of these were already on the list in July 2021 (all winners then - second, third and fifth positions) All of them have gone down, two about 50 percent, one approx. 90 percent. From the moment of their acquisition, they are still net winners. The other two: are flops.
The net result of this portfolio (very different from what it looked like 17 months ago) is possibly a little above zero. I say this, not knowing the in and out positions (with realized gains or losses?).
This is very new (July 19, 2022). Of the eight positions, six gained (between 0,7 percent and 8,5 percent) and two lost (3,2 and 0,8 percent).
Hardly a Veuve Clicquot moment.
I took a sample of 33 recommendations for different portfolios (mostly Oxford Trading and Ten-Baggers) which I received during the 18 months I have been a subscriber (I write this in December 2022).
For each of these, I compared the comments from two other services I subscribe to and which I highly respect. Having done that, I classify the outcome into four categories: Excellent choice; Choice that earns the Benefit of the Doubt; Pretty bad choice; Very bad choice (a dud!). Here goes:
- Excellent: 7
- BoD: 10
- Pretty bad: 7
- Very bad: 9
Half the choices are good or so-so, and the other half is half-bad to very bad. If the ones that go up do that in the same measure as the ones that go down, we're about even!
Probably a bit better than zero, and in the best case, half-compensating for the inflation. Which is possibly - and only possibly - better than the average return shown by competing services. But, is it better than going steady with less risky investment-grade corporate bonds?
Anyway, far, far away from creating new financially independent clients, and much less, wealthy ones.
Following are some examples and my comments on them, which will help you to calibrate, besides the purely financial aspects, how and to what point OC lived up to its promises.
June 2021: "Is portfolio diversification for idiots?" Quite a different statement from what OC's heads said in their original presentation where they pushed diversifying.
This shows they can change course if needed despite not agreeing entirely with a piece of advice. I salute them for sharing it with their audience.
July 2021: "Growth Stocks have outperformed Value Stocks over the last 30 years."
Well, not in 2022, and later OC will do a complete about-face in favor of Value stocks.
In August 2021 I get three free videos by Marc Lichtenfeld: "How to trade like Champions."
From now on everything is a 2022 recap:
In January I see "Say NO to glamorous stocks and turn to value. Why value stocks will leave growth stocks in the dust".
Again in January, they publish a list of ethical and unethical companies, citing an Axios Harris poll. One is a very well-known American bank. The same bank is promoted later under the title "Use fear and greed to your advantage."
What the heck?
Then: "We have entered Bear Market, are you ready?" Much earlier than many of their competitors.
February: Growth stock disguised as Deep Value.
In April, an invitation to a debate/webinar: "Will the market crash in 2022?" Mark Lichtenfeld is the bear, Bryan Botarelli of Monument Traders Alliance - Trade of the Day Plus - The War Room is the bull. Botarelli promotes his short-term options approach as the solution.
See the world-cup-final-like battle here. I think it was a draw. You? Give us your comments at the end of the article.
Then, in May 2022 OC confirmed "We are in a Bear Market" and came up with "Mistakes to avoid":
- Acting emotionally rather than rationally.
- Believing in the "buy-the-dip" religion for the only reason that stock prices have fallen.
- Trying to pick the bottom: This always fails.
- Expecting the market to snap back soon.
- Forgetting history.
In June OC stated that stock buy-back programs installed by many companies are primarily favorable for investors.
In the same month, Cathy Wood's ARK funds are dressed down.
And, in July, we read that Biotech might be one of the next sectors to boom. They think you should realize gains made on energy, rather than stress that sector further.
September: they state that the S&P Companies with Betas of less than 1, tend to underperform during bulls but over-perform during bears. Of the top 30 such firms, all but two pay dividends, and 19 report revenue growth of 20 percent or more.
Funny enough, 15 on that list are energy companies, only two are in the Health and Biotech sectors, and just one is a bank. Food for thought.
Of the list of the 30 worst, two are biotech firms pitched by OC only a short while back. While not complete losers, they both seem to go nowhere.
November: Lichtenfeld pitches his new advisory "The era of Valorem" and makes readers a gift of his Top Five Dividend Stocks, his Ultimate Dividend Package, and some other goodies
I downloaded them all - you should never look at the fang of a gift horse.
Marc makes a compelling case for Dividend stocks. 68 percent of Warren Buffet's portfolio is dividend-paying. Dividends statistically account for 90 percent of gains in stocks. He says you should get paid for investing because you are a partner in the firms you invest in. I agree.
He further claims to have a way "to pay zero taxes on dividends". He endorses investments in safe and growing companies with dividend yields up to eight percent and especially those that have increased these dividends continually.
These are attractive small-cap dividend stocks that are safe and very cheap. Click here to find his presentation on Dec. 6, 2022.
And now, in December 2022, an upgrade was offered, Called "Oxford Communiqué PRO", it is interesting for a number of reasons:
The preamble Alex and Marc give in itself, is a well-argued repositioning/rethinking of their service. So go through it even if you decide not to subscribe.
Alex and Marc backtrack on a number of paradigms they have followed probably for decades, such as:
- Their claim of never investing themselves in their recommendations. Alex now states, to the contrary, that he invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in his pitches.
- In order to maintain integrity and independence, he will not sell any of the investments he bought with his own money before recommending selling to his clientele.
- OC did not mention options in their initial presentation. They do now here, more as an occasional help than as the all-important, central role other services promote.
- "Growth stocks" were the apple of everybody's eye. Well, not any more and the new buzzword is "value stocks." Lichtenfeld has launched this year a separate service where he pitches "Valorem" stocks.
- They now think more in terms of being flexible, nimble and quick on their feet.
The upgrade consists of three additions "bringing OC to a new level":
First: Profit Accelerator. Every month you will receive a BONUS RECOMMENDATION. It is a stock or option (something completely new in their approach), to:
- Increase profits dramatically. Make the greatest amount of money in the shortest timespan possible.
- With one special Insider play.
- And a smaller Microcap play.
Second: Monthly State of the Market Call to eliminate noise and focus on what matters. It is in Conference Call format and gives you:
- OC´s inside look/take on the market
- Urgent updates on trends and opportunities
- Analysis of what direction the market is moving
Third: Market Outlook Monthly: an inside look at what's most likely to move.
Fourth: a Special "Gift"
All this if you register to OC Pro as a lifetime subscription for a one-time payment of $349. Afterward, you only pay only $10 p.a. as a maintenance fee. You can also subscribe for only one year at $249. This comes with a 90 day money-back guarantee - no questions asked.
RECAP AND CONCLUSIONS
With The Oxford Communiqué, you get different, well-written, persuasively argued monthly newsletters from knowledgeable, reputable authors.
In this annus horribilis, it would, in the best case, have managed to maintain your stock values and perhaps compensated for inflation, too, had you followed many (or most) of their recommendations.
This is better than what most of their competitors achieved, but still far away from the exaggerated expectations created in many a mind by bragging with numbers that would have been valid before 2022.
And, sorry, the future looks as foggy as the present.
They are flexible and nimble enough with their recommendations, recognize errors and correct them, and are prepared to change course if circumstances prove that was necessary.
If you are just entering the private investment world, you will receive entertaining and helpful information and will gain good knowledge about the market, its tendencies, opportunities, trends and how to "hear the grass grow."
Follow the recommendations: you won't get financially independent, but you won't lose your shirt either. Do I advice buying the upgrade? I didn't.
Did Alex Green, Marc Lichtenfeld and the crew of The Oxford Communiqué deliver the goods?
And the gap will not close anytime soon.
Thus, we're finished with our Review of The Oxford Communiqué.