Kat Merriman is not what most people expect when looking for financial advice. Most don’t know that Merriman spent nine years flying intelligence and surveillance missions for the Air Force. But that’s how she breaks the ice.
Merriman says a lot of times people feel pressure when they are talking to a financial professional — but when she tells them she flew airplanes for the military, it makes them less nervous because there is an element of surprise. Also, “many people have served or know someone who has served — so there’s that instant connection,” she says.
Merriman joined the military after Sept. 11, 2001. She was deployed five times to the Middle East, flying 90 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. She had three missions where she was tasked with bringing a new jet to the Middle East and flying a broken jet home. She also flew six missions in the Caribbean and South America.
While in the military, she also served as a financial and compliance officer. After medically retiring from the military due to a leg injury, Merriman continued to work for the Department of Defense as a federal auditor. During one audit, Merriman discovered a contractor was charging the government for items outside its contract. By getting the charge removed, she saved taxpayers $6.50 for every dollar spent for the department, she says.
Though Merriman is proud of those types of accomplishments, she wanted a career with more of a tangible feeling of making a difference. That’s what attracted her to Prudential a year ago — that she could help people by teaching them how to make good financial decisions. Now Merriman says she’s doing something “like nothing I’ve done before in my life: building my own book of business.”
— Traci Beach
Name: Kat Merriman
City of residence: Palmetto
Twitter handle: @kat8700
Employer: Prudential Financial
Title: Financial Professional Associate
Years on the Gulf Coast: 6
Marital status/children: Single/no children
Alma mater/degree: Texas A&M University - Commerce (BS – Psychology); Bellevue University (BS – Accounting and MBA)
Best place to network: I network anywhere I can have a meaningful conversation with the person I am speaking with.
Messy desk or clean workspace: Clean
Eat lunch out or at your desk: Often times lunch is squeezed in at my desk, but I do enjoy when I am able to have lunch out.
Best business lesson ever learned: A former military commander often gave words of wisdom. One Friday afternoon in our weekly briefing, he told us all to think about the decisions we would make that weekend and not to wake up the next day and wish we had made a different one. Sometimes the path in life comes down to one decision and that has stuck with me.
Weirdest job you’ve ever had: I worked overnight at a gas station during college. The hours kept the job interesting.
A website that makes your job easier: Google is the highway to everything else.
App you use the most: Mail
One thing you do every day: Pray
Community group you’re most involved with: Rotary
Favorite off-hours activity: When I have time, I like to cook. I also enjoy the water and being outside with family and friends.
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Wladyslaw Szpilman, who wrote "The Pianist," and The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton
What you would be doing if you could pick another career: I would like to work with sea animals.
Top item on your bucket list: I have yet to visit many places in my Florida backyard. Weeki Wachi is on my short list.
Your happy place is: My home
Your biggest fear: I hope I always have my freedom.
Favorite Ted Talk: Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are
Skill you’d like to learn: I would love to learn to speak Spanish.
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Emma Stone
Describe yourself in three words: Honest, intelligent and hard-working