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?


8 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? Brand to Standingford

  • Went through something similar in 1998 when I divorced. My married name was Scully and everyone thought it was hilarious – Mulder & Scully – X files – very big in the 90s. I changed it back to my maiden name of Goodwin – little did I know that name was to become notorious during the financial crisis! Lloyd and I married in 1999 and his surname was Nixon and he offered to change his name to Goodwin – we’ve been team Goodwin ever since !

    • Wow – I’ve never come across a man willing to change his name to his wife’s surname….. but then, most women probably don’t ask. Maybe we should. Would any men out their change their surname to their wive’s maiden name?

  • I’m not married, never have been, but I can relate to this issue in my own way.

    I hate my surname. Always have done. It is foreign, most people can’t spell it, most people can’t pronounce it and I get asked about it more often than I would like.

    Just as I was going to start advising, I was determined to change it because I was convinced that life at work, with clients, would be easier with a ‘normal’ surname. I had the forms prepared (though never actually settled on a new surname), but didn’t go through with it.

    I guess back then, I believed that me and my (then) partner would get married one day, I would take his surname and I would just have to go through an unnecessary additional change.

    5ish years after that, still hating my surname, other half still not wanting to marry me (his loss) and about to start a new job, I thought it would be the perfect time to change the surname – I wouldn’t have to explain to any of my clients what happened, because I’d have new clients.

    Anyway, I chickened out again… Two years later, I sort of regret it, because I still think it would have been a great time to do it when I changed jobs (and marriage is now off the cards…).

    I still dislike my surname and hide it wherever I can (including on here, you will have noticed), but I think I’m coming to terms with it. My current colleagues and most my clients can say or spell it almost as easily as ‘Jones’, which helps..

    What you are saying, Catriona, proves my problem – the longer a woman (or a man, I guess) stays in their career, the harder it will be to make the change.

    • Want an interesting angle. I often have people spell my first name incorrectly as it’s pronounced Ca-tree-na so people think it’s “Katrina” with a “K” and without an “o”. Even if I spell it to someone over the phone they usually don’t hear me saying the “o” and it ends up Catrina. It doesn’t really bother me, but I can see why mis-spelling of a surname can cause problems (my maiden name has some difficulties too but I don’t use it now).

      In hindsight, like you, I think changing your name sooner rather than later is better but there’s never a good time.

  • Catriona, I’m feeling it for you.
    It’s a lot of hassle and admin pain. Good luck to you and best of luck in crossing it all over smoothly.

    It’s a brave move. You deserve to succeed.
    There’s no doubts, in the end it doesn’t matter what you are called. It’s what you deliver. It’s just unfortunate your clients will be associating the name Brand with the excellent services they have received in the past.

    It’ll take time to change, but I’m liking the fact that you are posting all over the social media on a regular basis. It won’t be long before Brand has gone….

    All the best,


    • Thanks John. It’ll always be “Brand Financial Training” but hopefully it won’t take too long to be known as Catriona Standingford rather than Catriona Brand.

      I’m really enjoying getting more into social media and being more involved in great sites like adviser lounge 🙂

  • Hi Catriona,

    Interesting debate…to cut a long story short, Sharp is my former married name from my first husband..I never changed my name back to my maiden name (although in hindsight maybe I should have done) when we divorced..

    I had the same dilemma as you, having built up a client base and changed jobs etc- you always want people to be able to find you, especially if you had a restrictive covenant.

    When I remarried, I kept Sharp for work and took Peter’s (Scandinavian, and often mis-spelt) surname of Wallin for my personal life.. I was on the verge of changing it completely, but then two new clients said they had chosen me from a list as they thought I might be “Sharp by name, Sharp by nature” ..sadly deceived!!!

    It’s quite nice to be able to split the two names for two parts of my life. It doesn’t (seem to) bother anyone (parents/in laws) that I kept Sharp for work, and even Peter calls me Sharpie.

    My passport says Wallin, but on the comments page it says “this person is also known as Fiona Sharp” because occasionally I need to go to Court for work etc. Despite all that trouble to be able to prove my identity, the only people I had a problem with were the CII when I went to sit a CII exam, and the examiner wasn’t going to let me in unless I produced my marriage certificate…thankfully, in a rush, I had picked it up anyway…..

    • So funny that the only issues you have had are with the CII.

      The only issues I’ve had outwith work was at immigration coming back into the UK from abroad. My eldest son has his dad’s surname (Brand). So when I rocked up at passport control as Mrs Standingford, Mr Standingford, two small Standingford’s and a Master Brand – they questioned if my eldest was my son. I explained that Brand was my previous married name. They then asked my eldest (9) if I was his mum. Thankfully he decided not to make a joke out of it and answered that I was (goodness knows what would have happened if he’d decided to be a comedian at that moment). I have to say I was worried for a few minutes! I was advised to carry around my eldest’s birth certificate when travelling. I also now carry around my marriage certificate to prove I was previously a Brand.

      Life is so complicated sometimes!


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