Can anyone detail the initial steps toward going Indy? (Assuming no experience in the industry whatsoever)
Go to Whats up at firms's--Raymond James Vs. LPL. You will find a whole lot of useful information there. After you've read that then answer the following questions and you should start getting some great info!
How long have you been in the business?
what type of firm are you currently with? (bank,wirehouse, edj etc)
Product mix? Fee based vs traditional commissions based comp
I don't know how feasible it is to go indy with no experience. Well-known indy firms like LPL and Raymond James have production hurdles that will keep you from starting as an indy with them, unless you work for another established indy. I looked at HD Vest, but their payout for general securities was horrible. If I remember right, they did pay about 70% on mutual funds, which isn't bad, but is still well short of the 90% you get through RJ & LPL. On the other hand, I believe that HD Vest doesn't have the production hurdles, which would possibly allow you to go part-time indy while you got your volume up to an acceptable level. HD Vest works mostly through CPA offices, I think. If I'm off on some of my facts, I'll blame it on my faulty memory. I'm sure RML will know the story better since he's using them, and I'll let him correct anything that I'm wrong about.
Another possibility is to work for someone else for 3-5 years and develope your skills and client base before going indy. This will allow you to look at bigger (and better, in my opinion) firms like RJ or LPL assuming that you hit some numbers, and will allow you to learn the business without having to run your own business at the same time. If you go this route, be very careful about what kind of non-compete/non-solicit you sign for whoever you work for...even a year out of the business is devastating, in my opinion.