Playing the name game
24th March 2017
At RIFT, we deal with a lot of information. For the most part, we use that information to make important decisions and predictions about what's coming and how we can help our customers with it. Occasionally, though, it's just interesting to take a snapshot of the world and see what it shows us.
If the latest Oscars foul-up tells us anything, it's that having the right name matters. At RIFT, we talk to thousands of clients each year - and we know each and every one of them by name. Here are a few quick facts we've found.
Do you know John Smith?
Surprisingly few people do.
Despite what you might have heard or expected, John Smith isn't the UK's most popular male name. In fact, John isn't even the most popular of the Smith boys. He's been overtaken by David by a margin of almost 25%.
These days, poor John can't even keeping up with the Joneses - David Jones beats him as well!
David beats Goliath in construction, but ends up wide of the Marks
Okay, we haven't ever actually dealt with a tax refund for anyone called Goliath yet. Davids, however, are extremely well represented in the construction trade. Our most recent count gave us a total of 4681 clients named David in the industry. That puts them right at the top of the chart in terms of head-count.
John and Paul are strong contenders in second and third place, respectively.
Compare that to MOD refunds, where Daniel and James knock David off his spot and down to 3rd place.
Who gets the highest refunds?
People often wonder what their name's worth. Are people called Rich really richer?
For the tax year 2016/17 poor Richards and Richmonds didn't feature on our "highest average refund" leader board.
While there's heavy competition from the Pauls and Johns of the world, Mark scores the highest average with nearly £1,800.
Why Marks get the sharp end of the HMRC stick is as yet unknown - but at least we're here to claim those big refunds back for them.
Again, though, no Goliaths - which is actually kind of a shame when you think about it.
Did you know: It's not all Bills and Donalds at the top of the business heap?
No, it's not Alan, either. In fact, a scan through the lists of top CEOs puts Deborah and Peter at the head of the pack. Dragon's Den suddenly makes a bit more sense all of a sudden...
Loads of research has been done on ways your name can determine your success. Here are 13 of the most interesting.
- If your name is easier to pronounce, people will favour you more.
Psychologist, Adam Alter, explains this is because when we can process a piece of information more easily we come have positive feelings about it. In a further study, he also found that companies with simpler names and ticker symbols tended to perform better in the stock market.
- If your name is common you’re more likely to be hired.
In a Marquette University study, the researchers found evidence to suggest that names that were viewed as the least unique were more likable. People with common names were more likely to be hired, and those with rare names were least likely to be hired. That means that the Marks, Pauls and Johns of this the world are in luck as far as getting work goes. No wonder they get the biggest refunds.
- Uncommon names are associated with youth crime
Researchers in 2009 found that regardless of names young people with unpopular names were more likely to engage in criminal activity! Of course the name doesn’t cause criminal behaviour but researchers have some theories about how being singled out and treated differently at a young age may make things more difficult for them.
We’ll see what happens to all those young celebrities with those crazy names in a few years!
- If your last near is closer to the beginning of the alphabet you may get into a better school.
Although students with last names that were low in the alphabet tended to get higher test scores overall, among the students who applied to universities and had borderline admittance scores, those with last names that were close to the top of the alphabet were more likely to be admitted.
Does this tell us more about the boredom levels of administrators than anything about names?
- If your last name If your last name is closer to the end of the alphabet, you're more likely to be an impulse spender.
According to one study, people with last names that fall at the end of the alphabet may be more susceptible to promotional strategies like limited-time offers. The researchers speculate that spending your childhood at the end of the roll call may make you want to jump on offers before you miss the chance.
Jump on the chance to get that refund now –whatever your name!
- Using your middle initial makes people think you're smarter and more competent.
According to research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, using a middle initial increases people's perceptions of your intellectual capacity and performance. In one study, students were asked to rate an essay with one of four styles of author names. Not only did the authors with a middle initial receive top marks, but the one with the most initials, David F.P.R. Clark, received the best reviews.
- If your name sounds noble, you are more likely to work in a high-ranking position.
Researchers studied names and ranks within companies. Those with last names such as King or Lord were in more managerial positions than those with last names that referred to common occupations, such as Cook, Potter or Farmer. This could be the result of associative reasoning, a psychological theory describing a type of thinking in which people automatically link emotions and previous knowledge with similar words or phrases.
How do people get their names?
So how did your Mum and Dad decide what to call you all those years ago? Maybe they got inspiration from the top films or music of the day.
The average age of our customers is 33, meaning they were born in 1984. Here's what was topping the movie charts on your Mum and Dad's date nights:
Ghostbusters was top of the film charts in 1984, but Peter, Raymond Egon, Winston and Dana didn't become popular names for children that year. Even more surprisingly, neither has Gozer or Zuul.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was next in the chart, but while “Indy” has apparently become a popular name for dogs belonging to people in their 30s it never crossed the human/canine divide.
Although with 1 in 5 parents saying they now regret the name they chose for their child, and 2% even regretting it so much they actually changed it, maybe that’s just as well
They weren't at the movies maybe your parents were dancing the night away to the chart toppers of the day:
Are there any Ray, Stevie, Frankie, George, Lionel, Andrew, Simon, Paul, Phil on the list? Remember these songs, they're the ones you’ll have to listen out for when you get sent back in time by Doc Brown to make sure your mum and dad get together with no hitches. Although Back To The Future was not til 1985 – so maybe you’ll be ok.
If you want a trip down memory lane then here's a YouTube playlist of 1984-85 chart toppers.
To be honest there wasn’t much changes in the very popular names for many years although things did still go in and out of fashion. Religious names were often the mainstay for boys and girls but with the exception of Matthew, Mark and John they are dying out – less than one in six children are christened now - and parents are more likely to name their child after a favourite song or actor, or to be inspired by celebrities who have led the trend for naming your baby with any combination of words that pleases you.
David and Victoria Beckham chose Harper Seven, Beyonce and Jay-Z went for Blue Ivy, Jamie Oliver and wife Jools are parents to Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo, Petal Blossom Rainbow, Buddy Bear and River Rocket and Frank Zappa blazed the trail by infamously named his long-suffering children Diva Muffin and Moon Unit.
Looking to the future...
Since the average age of a RIFT client is 33, it's interesting to think about what the future of tax refunds holds. Back in 1984, when the current crop of clients were being named, Christopher, James and David were the top picks for boys so it's no surprise that you can see all three names among our most popoular customer names in the chart at the top.
Fast forward to 2017 and while James is still in the top 10 boys' names Christopher and David have fallen out of the chart.
So come 2050 we could be doing refunds for Harry, Oliver and Jack. The question is what will they be doing? Will “offshore” become “off planet” workers be mining asteroids instead? Will we be having to calculate mileage allowance for commuting by jet pack? Will security workers be guarding installations under the oceans or in space? It sounds unlikely - but you never know!
It's fun kicking the statistics around from time to time, but there is a serious point to all this. At RIFT, you'll never be just a number to us. We work hard for every single one of our thousands of clients. Whatever you come to us for, from tax refunds to Self Assessment, we always give you the individual attention you need and deserve.
That's our promise, and that's why RIFT is renowned as the best name in the tax business. We've been claiming tax rebates and filing tax returns since 1999. Use our free tax refund calculator to get an instant estimate of how much tax you could be owed.