Broker Check

A Body of Work and Change

| May 08, 2019
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I rarely get to tell people about the remarkable career achievements of my wife and business partner.  To me and the many professionals that she has worked with over the years, it is a remarkable story.

Laura started her career in the financial services industry with one of the largest wire houses in the country, PaineWebber.  She was first hired as a wire operator who “wired” the trades of the branch to the floor of one of the exchanges for execution.  Her time was spent between the branch in Thousand Oaks and Encino California.  It wasn’t long before she was promoted to Operations Manager in which she transferred to the Oxnard branch.  After watching and seeing what the brokers were doing, she decided that she could do better and studied for and passed the Series 7 Securities exam on the very first try.  Keep in mind this is still one of the most difficult exams to pass, and it still has a 50% failure rate for folks taking it the second time!!  The iconic images of this industry are the Bull and the Bear, hardly something that is welcoming for females or is gender neutral especially during the 80’s.

She then transferred to San Jose to be a broker, just as Silicon Valley was beginning to take shape.  She worked on IPO’s for Atari, Eagle Computer and many others.  After seeing that the average investor was losing out, with stock trade commissions running from $60 per trade upwards of $500 and more, she thought there had to be a better way.  Meanwhile the industry was going through some transformative things and was being de-regulated.  She found out about a company, Charles Schwab, and applied and was hired for their Branch Career Development Program.  For the next couple of years, Laura traveled throughout Northern California opening Schwab Branch offices.  During that period, Laura also worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and was a specialist on the floor of the Pacific Stock Exchange for a brief time.  Next, she became the Branch Manager of Schwab’s flagship branch on California Street.  This was a popular branch in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district.  It was frequented by many, including the grip man of the California Street Cable Car who would stop the car in front of the office and run in and place trades and get quotes.  He even stopped his car so that Laura and her branch employees could have their picture taken on the cable car for a promotional piece.

Her next stop was the San Mateo branch which she opened and grew the assets to over $300 million dollars in the late 80’s to early 90’s.  It is also noteworthy that Chuck had his second office there for the days he didn’t want to commute all the way into San Francisco.  Her next calling was San Francisco Headquarters where she worked on projects like E-Schwab (internet trading) and the first program to opened Schwab’s back office to independent financial advisors.  It wasn’t long after that she transitioned to become a director of the first banking/brokerage linked accounts on the street, “Schwab One.”  There she was instrumental in improving the banking relationship from Bank of America to PNC to provide better access to clients and their money.  Eventually the department outgrew San Francisco and necessitated offices in Indianapolis, Orlando and Denver and Laura and moved the headquarters of Schwab One to Denver.

After she left Schwab, she took a break and opened a Bed and Breakfast in Pleasantville Tennessee before returning to her home town of Huntsville and getting back into financial services.

She spent a few years working with a regional broker before opening her own firm, CochranMickels Retirement Specialists.  She again saw the need to assist people who had saved and invested all those years to turn those assets into income that will last for the rest of their lives.  She has had tremendous amount of success, in 2017 we grew at 168%, 2018 38% and in 2019 we are tracking on growth of 58%.  She enjoys the challenge of helping people achieve their retirement goals and live their dreams.  She has recently been awarded her Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) designation.

Our industry is very unforgiving, it is always there to catch you off guard, asleep or complacent.  As the saying goes, Wall Street starts in graveyard and ends in a river.  Laura has spent her whole career dedicated to helping investors navigate between a graveyard and a river.


Mike Mickels is President of CochranMickels Retirement Specialists and an avid sporting clay competitor. CochranMickels Retirement Specialists provides personalized planning and investment services to individuals approaching and in retirement. They also provide retirement and benefits training to Federal employees

Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a broker-dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc, a Registered Investment Advisor. CochranMickels and Cambridge are not affiliated.

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