Broker Check

Alpharetta Office


    Rick L. Kent, CFP®, ChFC, AIF®

    President/Founder

    As our founding partner, Rick is based in the Alpharetta office, and oversees all of the Merit offices, as well as, our Registered Investment Advisor platform. He is active in client relations, office mergers and acquisitions, in addition to all current and new business activities at Merit Financial Advisors. Merit Financial Group, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor manages $625 million in discretionary client assets as of April 2016.

    Rick is enthusiastic about helping families and individuals pursue their financial goals and objectives. Rick has an extensive background in estate and financial retirement planning. After more than twenty years of experience in the financial industry, Rick now dedicates the majority of his focus to retirement planning.

    Rick received a Chartered Financial Consultant's degree from American College, and has also achieved his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional license. He is a member of the Financial Planning Association, where he has volunteered his time speaking on various financial topics. Rick has received the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) designation to focus on the components of comprehensive investment process related to fiduciary standards in the financial industry. Rick has appeared in numerous industry publications such as Forbes, Financial Advisor Magazine, Research Magazine, Morningstar Advisor, Horsesmouth, etc. to share his practice management ideas with other advisors.

    Rick spends his free time enjoying hobbies such as snow skiing, hiking, sailing, kayaking and other outdoor activities.

    "We measure our success by the value we create for our clients."

    Doug Blanton, CFA

    Director of Investments | LPL Registered Administrative Associate

    Doug is responsible for the Investment Management Program at Merit Financial Advisors. With 20+ years of experience in the investment industry, Doug assists financial advisors in developing investment strategies that focus on their client's needs.

    Doug is an LPL Registered Administrative Associate who carries a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is also a member of the CFA Society of Atlanta.

    Doug currently lives in Alpharetta with his wife Amie, and their 2 children, Darby and Avery. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with family, golfing, and tinkering projects at home.

    Amelia B. Wood

    Director of Compliance & Operations

    Amelia has been with Merit Financial Advisors since 2001 and focuses on ensuring that the firm and its advisors comply with SEC and FINRA rules and regulations. She is responsible for providing compliance training, conducting branch exams, coordinating updates to SEC filings, responding to inquiries from regulators and handling licensing and registration. She also oversees the IT, accounting and payroll for the firm.

    Amelia obtained her Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Bryan, their two children, Alex and Olivia, and their dog, Buc. Amelia enjoys playing tennis on the ALTA tennis leagues as well as dancing, skiing (both water and snow) and snowboarding.

    David Elder, Jr., MS, CFP®

    Financial Advisor

    David is passionate about helping clients define and most importantly, pursue their goals utilizing realistic expectations and risk management. He holds a Masters of Science in Personal Financial Planning from Georgia State University as well as a bachelor's degree in Music from Belmont University.

    David is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional as well as an active member of the Georgia chapter of the Financial Planning Association. He believes it is very important for the financial services industry to give back and therefore he volunteers as a Pro Bono planner helping veterans and low income individuals through the Foundation of Financial Planning.

    David lives in Alpharetta with his wife Allison, their son Luke, and their dog Willy. He is a member of Alpharetta United Methodist Church and is excited about the things his Sunday School class is doing to help make their church a stronger faith community. In his free time, David loves to play golf, cook, and listen to music. If you have any tips to lower his handicap, great recipes to share, or albums to suggest, David is all ears.

    Jim Russell, III, ChFC

    Financial Advisor

    Jim has always been fascinated by the flow of money, economics and geopolitics. Prior to Merit Financial Advisors, he began his financial and estate planning career with the Mixon Baker Agency National Life of Vermont in 1978. After that, he joined the Al Adams Rare Coins firm in 1980 where he became the Vice President of the company. After becoming a registered representative in 1995, he joined Allegiance Advantage Group. He now serves as an advisor for Merit Financial Advisors.

    Jim graduated from Stetson University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and is also a Chartered Financial Consultant. His naturally compassionate nature and unwavering dedication to his clients well-being and financial independence make him a personal- yet professional touch in the financial industry.

    Jim is an avid scuba diver (Dive Master/ Master Scuba Diver) He shoots sporting clays, reads every day, thoroughly enjoys travel, wilderness hiking, the theater, and working out. Jim also has 3 children and 4 very active grandchildren.

    Olivia Keys

    Financial Advisor

    Olivia has over four years experience in the financial services industry. Olivia graduated from Georgia State University in 2011 with Cum Laude honors. She has her Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance with a minor in Personal Financial Planning.

    She is devoted to helping others define their financial goals, determining the actions needed to pursue those goals, and diligently working on putting those actions into place. She enjoys working with individuals and uncovering strategies to help them target their personal goals. It is the relational aspect of financial planning and her desire to educate those on basic financial planning concepts that drives her passion at Merit Financial Advisors.

    In her spare time, Olivia enjoys a getting a good sweat on n the weight room, finding ways to make decadent desserts healthy, playing tennis, reading devotionals and books for personal enrichment and spending time with friends and family.

    Renora Orr

    Financial Advisor

    Renora Orr began her career with Charles Schwab, Edward Jones, and Allegiance Retirement Solutions before joining Merit Financial Advisors. Renora holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and has over 14 years of experience in the financial industry. Her current licenses are a Series 7, 63, and 24 registrations through LPL Financial and a Series 65 through Merit Financial Group.

    She believes in using comprehensive financial planning so that each client can understand and overcome the current trends in retirement planning to help them with their income during the retirement years. Renora enjoys the process and finding the strategies for every client need, in order to pursue their retirement goals.

    In her spare time she enjoys reading and writes a blog for parents of children with learning disabilities and autism. She also partners with the non-profit, WIFE.org as a Divorce Workshop Leader where she promotes financial literacy for women going through a divorce. She has been married for 17 years and has an 11-year old son. Renora also serves as an officer for a local chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

    Scott Meyer

    Financial Advisor

    Scott started his financial planning career at Smith Barney, where he worked with individual wealth management, retirement plans and in the fixed income market. After leaving the large institution, he saw the benefit a boutique firm can offer their clients. The supportive environment, along with best in class service is what attracted Scott to Merit Financial Advisors. Raised in Atlanta, Scott holds a Bachelor degree from Valdosta State University, where he received both golf and academic scholarships.

    At Merit Financial Advisors, Scott spends his time advising clients towards the pursuit of their financial goals. From early on in his career, Scott has had passion for helping others set and work towards their financial dreams. “I believe the biggest mistake people make for retirement is the failure to plan for it. That is why we at Merit like to work with our clients years before they retire. This personalized approach also allows a trusting relationship to naturally form.”

    He is an active board member of the Valdosta State Alumni Chapter. In addition to his passion for the financial planning business, Scott enjoys playing golf, running and spending time with his daughter Austin.

    Nick Moon

    Investment Support and Compliance Analyst

    Nick assists with the Investment Management Program, as well as compliance, at Merit Financial Advisors. Some of his key responsibilities include trading for advisory accounts and aiding the financial advisors with investment operations.

    Nick graduated from The University of Georgia with a Bachelors in Financial Planning. Before joining Merit Financial Advisors in 2016, Nick served as a Branch Compliance Examiner at an independent broker-dealer.

    Debra Dabney

    Senior Client Service Manager

    Debra, a native New Yorker began her Client Service career with Merit Financial Advisors in 2002, then Allegiance Advantage Group, Debra has more than 20 years in the financial service industry, including Quality Control and Risk Management.

    Highly focused on exceeding client expectation, Debra possesses keen interpersonal communication and leadership skills to create the ultimate Client Service experience.

    Debra spends her time away from the office with family. A huge jazz enthusiast, her hobbies include gardening and reading. She is a member and co-founder of a local reading group in Atlanta since 2004.

    Jennifer Mauney

    Client Service Manager

    Joining Merit Financial Advisors in 2013, Jennifer Mauney, a Client Service Manager, considers herself to be the liaison between the clients and the advisors. She assists with account maintenance and applications, research and questions. Jennifer strives to exceed client expectations with a friendly, yet professional style.

    She loves to work with people, and is always open to new ideas by focusing on the positives. She takes a “people first” approach in everyday life and when servicing our clients.

    Jennifer attended Montclair State University in New Jersey, and has over 12 years of client service experience. She and her husband love spending time outdoors running, hiking, and chasing their active two year old son. She enjoys reading, trying new foods, and a good cup of coffee.

    Myoski Billingsley

    Client Service Associate

    Myoski Billingsley joined Merit Financial Advisors in June 2017 as a Client Service Associate. Prior to Merit Financial Advisors, she began her career in the higher education sector. She helped manage student loan cohort default rates with the Georgia Student Finance Commission and Kaplan Higher Education for over 12 years. 

    Myoski attended Valdosta State University for Organizational Leadership. She also served in the United States Navy as a Personelman. 

    Myoski spends most of her free time with her 3-year-old son, Andrew, who keeps her very busy with sports. She is also a member of 'MOMS R US', a Moms' group that focuses on finding balance between motherhood and a professional life. 

    Debra A. Jones

    Front Office Administrator

    Debra has been with Merit Financial Advisors for six years and is responsible for scheduling client and prospective client reviews with the advisors, assisting the advisors in coordinating workshops, client social events and brand management as part of the collective Marketing team at Merit Financial Advisors.

    Debras willingness to help team members assist clients with pursuing their goals, makes her a valuable resource with over 20 years experience in both Customer Service and Administration.

    Debra grew up in the Midwest but has been a southerner for over 25 years and resides, with her husband Bill, in Roswell, GA. She enjoys spending time outdoors, reading and chasing after her 5 year old grandson.

    Alejandra Praddaude

    Executive Assistant to Rick Kent

    Alejandra joined Merit Financial Advisors in July 2017 as Executive Assistant to Rick Kent. Alejandra has had a long career supporting executives in various industries. Her success comes from being passionate about being of service to the executives she supports. 

    Alejandra was born in Argentina and raised in Saugus, Massachusetts. She lived in New Hampshire for several years before moving to Atlanta over 17 years ago, and will never move back to New England. She's had her fill of severe winters! She is an avid reader, and stays young at heart by playing with and enjoying her two grandchildren. 

    Laura Sithens

    Client Relationship Manager

    Laura is a Client Relationship Manager with Merit Financial Advisors. She is responsible for managing existing client relationships working with experienced advisors and technical specialists in formulating and implementing financial plans. Laura adds value to client relationships through knowledge of detail, thoroughness, accuracy, reliability and client trust.

    Laura joined Merit Financial Advisors after 13 years of service with her former employer, Bob Atkinson. She previously oversaw the compliance functions of PFM Capital Holdings. After graduating from Piedmont College with a Business degree and minor in Psychology, Laura began her career in finance in the early days of the E*TRADE boom starting out in the online investment services firm's Atlanta headquarters.

    Laura is the proud mother of two and is a member of Stonecreek Church. In her spare time she enjoys playing in several tennis leagues.

    Jooliana Kim

    Client Relations Manager

    As a Client Relations Manager for Merit Financial Advisors, Jooliana strategically plans and executes marketing events to build new relationships with prospects, and to nurture existing relationships with current clients.

    Jooliana has five years of experience in product and brand marketing as well as three years of experience in digital marketing. Her primary responsibilities at Merit Financial Advisors are to identify prospects, then develop a positive and mutually beneficial relationship between them and Merits financial advisors by utilizing marketing resources at educational seminars, workshops and other marketing and promotional events.

    Raised in Johns Creek, GA, Jooliana holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia, where she received the HOPE Scholarship during her undergraduate studies. During her spare time, she enjoys working for 11Alives “Born To Compete” as a Media Correspondent as well as interviewing artists in the music industry at music festivals. She enjoys working out, spending quality time with friends and family. She is an active member in her church, Buckhead Church in Atlanta, GA.

    Whitney D. Queen

    Digital Marketing Coordinator

    Whitney is responsible for building a bridge of trust online between Merit Financial Advisors, its clients, and the general public. Additionally, she works with teams of Financial Advisors to coordinate various marketing campaigns and digital platforms for Merit and Worksite Financial Wellness.

    With a desire to understand what drives a brand, Whitney has always been fascinated with Marketing. She attended the University of Alabama where she studied Advertising, Psychology, and Computer Science.  After gaining a few years’ experience in the industry, Whitney obtained her Masters of Science in International Marketing Management from Boston University. She is a lover of the arts, history, and travel. She and her husband are members of Northside United Methodist Church, and they enjoy spending time with friends and family.