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Woodstock Developments 

A monthly update on new research, analysis, and advocacy from the Woodstock Institute


From the President: Fiduciary standards needed for all investment and retirement advice and small business lending

Dory Rand

Years ago, as a young married person contemplating starting a family and saving for my children’s college education, I engaged for the first time with a financial planning firm. I learned the hard way the difference between an advisor who earns commissions based on sales of insurance and investment products, and an advisor who works for fees only on a fiduciary basis and does not sell products or earn commissions (such as a fee-only Certified Financial Planner). My initial planner recommended that I invest in a particular 529 college savings plan, without telling me that the recommend plan paid the highest commissions, rather than in a 529 plan with lower costs and better opportunities to grow savings. While I eventually switched my college investments to a lower-cost 529 plan, many people remain stuck in less advantageous college investments because they received advice from advisors who are not acting under a fiduciary standard, which requires that the advisor put the investor’s interests first, not the interests of lining the advisor’s own pockets. Fiduciary standards are needed to protect consumers and help families save more for college.

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Congratulations to Patricia Woods-Hessing and Beverly Berryhill for decades of service at Woodstock Institute!

Patricia Woods-Hessing and Beverly Berryhill 

Woodstock Institute is proud to recognize its longest-standing employees, Beverly Berryhill and Patricia Woods-Hessing. This summer, Office Manager Beverly Berryhill celebrated her 25-year anniversary at Woodstock Institute and Administrative Director Patricia Woods-Hessing marked her 30th year with the organization.

“Patricia and Beverly’s hard work are absolutely critical to Woodstock Institute’s success,” said Dory Rand, President of Woodstock Institute. “We would not be where we are today without their financial expertise, keen organizational and management skills, and institutional memory. We thank them for their years of service and look forward to many more.”

“It is a great opportunity to work at an organization that serves as a bridge between community-based organizations and policymakers and expands economic security for those who most need it,” said Woods-Hessing.

“I’m proud that my work contributes to advancing wealth-building opportunities for low-wealth communities and communities of color,” said Berryhill. 

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President Obama endorses state policies to expand private-sector retirement savings

President Obama endorses initiatives to make retirement savings available to workers: “To me, the answer is clear. We need to uphold the basic tenet that says, in America, a lifetime of hard work should be rewarded with a retirement that is secure and dignified,” he wrote. Woodstock Institute agrees with the President, who stated: “This is about more than bank accounts or bottom lines. It’s about the values that make America great — honesty, fair play, dignity. And it’s about our commitment to each other and respecting everyone’s value, no matter how young or old you are.” The President recently called for the Department of Labor to develop rules that will help states set up automatic retirement savings programs for private-sector workers. Woodstock Institute supports this development and calls on the Department to issue the rules quickly. 

Congress should vote down attempts to limit the CFPB

Americans are living longer, and so the money they set aside for retirement has to stretch further. Also, more seniors are experiencing financial insecurity in the aftermath of the housing market crash. To deal with living costs, many seniors turn to reverse mortgages, which allow them to receive loan payments based on the equity in their homes. However, reverse mortgages are complicated, and most consumers do not really understand their potential risks and pitfalls. Seniors in Illinois may soon have less to worry about because the state legislature approved a bill that would add consumer protections to reverse mortgages. 

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Vital Services Should Not Be Sacrificed to Save IL’s Budget

Illinois has been operating without a budget for two months. The impact has been immediate and felt across the state. No budget means no money for vital services for children and families. Woodstock Institute worked with the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) earlier this summer to urge lawmakers to pass a budget that focuses on generating revenue over simply cutting more services. Now is the time for lawmakers to take the lead and produce a budget that puts these services back in order. 

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