What’s in a Name? Brand to Standingford

When it comes to having a career and building yourself a name in financial services, there is one challenge many women come up against that men don’t. Their surname. My surname has been a headache for a few years now but I have (at last) decided to change it. I know many other women also struggle with this.

When I was married 10 years ago and decided to setup my business, Brand Financial Training, I decided to use my married name of Brand. I decided against using my maiden name because it is rarely spelt correctly and not easy to remember, but Brand is straightforward, easy to remember and works well with ‘Brand Financial Training’. And course, I had every intention of remaining married to Mr Brand for the rest of my life. So I have been known as Catriona Brand over the years, and it’s a name that people know.

Alas, the marriage didn’t work out and the ‘Big D’ took place. No, not Death – Divorce (although it is rather similar to Death). Anyway, that led to a quandry. What should I do with my name? I am known as Catriona Brand. My business uses the name. My eldest son has that surname. So I have kept using it.

Then I met my Mr Right (I know, I know, pass the sick bucket). I re-married and became Catriona Standingford. I have another two children with Mr Standingford so I have been using the name Standingford for everything except my business. Whilst I’m known in business as Catriona Brand, now I’m married to the right person I really don’t want to keep the name from my previous marriage. And ‘Standingford’ may sound grand (I joke about one day calling my house ‘Standingford Manor’) but it’s a bit of a mouthful and doesn’t fit nicely on the screen. That aside, the main problem I have had is the fact that I am known as Catriona Brand. All my emails have been signed as Catriona Brand. People link me with Brand Financial Training. So should I change my name?

This is something that women struggle with a great deal. Maiden name, married name, possibly re-married name. It can really affect your career and how you’ve made yourself known to clients, business partners and your target market at large. It’s not just about how you sign your emails or your letters, it affects the name registered with professional bodies, your business bank account, your LinkedIn account, your Twitter account… and so the list goes on.

So I’m now officially revealing that I’m no longer Catriona Brand and am now Catriona Standingford. It has taken me a while to accept the fact that I just have to do it. My LinkedIn account is now Catriona (Brand) Standingford. Bit weird but that’s how LinkedIn allow you to change your surname and still be found with your old surname. My twitter account is still @CatrionaBrand and I’m scratching my head on that one as @CatrionaStandingford has too many characters for Twitter! So even now there are issues to resolve.

I guess the world will not fall apart if my surname has changed although it may cause some confusion to some people for a while. In hindsight, it would have been a lot simpler if I’d just stuck to my maiden name all these years.

I’m sure that many female financial advisers have had the same issues and I would love to hear about them. What did you decide to do? Do you work under one name and have a home life under another? Has it affected your work life? Or have you always kept one name regardless?