Check your Requirements
Check what your state requires at: NASAA Website
Complete any necessary exams
Securities Training Corp is about the largest course provider of exams and Bisys is probably second largest. The fastest way to get exams handled is NOT to take self-study, but to enroll in a class that meets Monday to Friday, and then take the exam at the Prometric center nearest you.
Note–many people are confused by the following. You will need to pass FINRA exams 7 and 66 in most states to be a Registered Investment Advisor. However, that DOES NOT means you get licensed with the FINRA or need to have a broker dealer sponsor you. The states simply use the FINRA exams as a way of testing that you know some investment basics. When you call the Prometric center, you just tell them the exam you need to take is for your RIA certificate.
Decide if you still want to have a broker dealer
If so, it’s probably faster to let a recruiter tell you which BDs have the most liberal policy with regard to reps also operating as RIAs.
List yourself at Broker Hunter
Choose a Custodian or Portfolio Management Platform
Some of these custodians may not want to work with smaller advisors unless you’ll be transferring a large book of business (e.g. $50 million +) within a few months, while others are willing to work with the beginning advisor (e.g. Ameritrade).