Planning: No time like the present

MARTINS FERRY – Mark Stecker has been an insurance agent and financial planner for New York Life since his graduation from The Ohio State University in 2005.

But Stecker decided it was time to strike out on his own. Time to be his own boss.

So Stecker, a Linsly graduate who currently resides in nearby Washington, Pa., decided to open his own branch, there was only once choice of which company he wanted to represent.

“I chose New York Life because I believe in their products,” Stecker said. “I use them, my family uses them and they are what I want to offer other people.

“You have to believe in what you’re doing. If you don’t walk the walk yourself, how can you sit here and tell someone else that this is the best choice for them?”

A big positive for New York Life is one of the last three big mutual companies still operating in the United States. It’s not beholden to sharing its profits with shareholders. As Stecker explained, New York life recently raised its dividend payout as opposed to not paying or cutting it.

“New York life is doing well.”

And that’s Stecker’s main goal, to make sure you’re doing well in your life.

A big part of that is making sure older Americans that are approaching retirement age are ready for it.

Pensions have long been on the way out. The 401k plans are the name of the game today. Coupled with the questions swirling around the status and solvency of the Social Security program, planning for the later stages in life is paramount.

“That is what is the forefront of everything,” Stecker said. “We’re just hitting the first wave of baby boomers retiring right now and there is only going to be more. It’s becoming a major issue for people – how do people keep their income and still be able to retire?”

And while it’s never to late to start planning, the sooner one starts planning the better.

“That’s a major issue. People keep working and doing what they’ve always done and don’t really start planning until it’s too late,” Stecker said.

“Then they realize they can’t retire yet and have to keep working.”

There’s also never an amount deemed to small to start pocketing away for retirement either.

Stecker’s clientele runs the gamut from younger couples just starting out to older citizens nearing the cusp of retirement.

For the younger couples, who may need that money while they are getting established, they naturally have less to sock away.

In that instance, Stecker recommends trying out a Roth IRA, even if just $50 per month.

Something is better than nothing and you can always put in more as you become more established and possess more income.

A financial services professional, Stecker’s office is located at 411 Hanover St. in Martins Ferry. He can be reached by calling (740) 633-1899, (614) 638-7374 or via email at

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