The key to a six-figure salary? It's all in the name

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What's in a name? The key to a lucrative lifestyle, it seems. Men called David and women called Susan are more likely to earn in excess of £100,000 a year, according to analysts working for Barclays Bank. Being christened John, Michael, Elizabeth or Sarah also gives you a higher chance of being a six- figure earner.

Researchers analysed 60,000 of Barclays Premier Banking customers who earn more than £100,000 and pinpointed the names that came up most often.

Mark Till, Barclays marketing director, said: "If you want your newborn to keep you in the manner to which you have become accustomed, in your old age, you should consider the latest list of high earners' names."

He added: "My mother is slightly disappointed that I only make number nine." However, the top-earning list reflects names that were far more popular 30 or 40 years ago than today.

The most popular name for boys born in 1964 was David, and Susan was the most common girl's name. Not one of the most common high-earning men's and women's names made the top 10 boys' and girls' names collated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for 2004. In fact, last year David fell out of the top 50 names for the first time in three decades.

Last year, Jack and Emily topped the ONS league table, while other popular names included Ellie, Sophie, Joshua and Thomas.

Today's ambitious parents want to turn their children into alpha males and females from the moment of birth, and companies are increasingly happy to help with pointers on the best names to choose - and to avoid.

Matthew is the UK's luckiest name, followed by Adam and Daniel, according to analysis of Premium Bond prize wins of more than £500 over the last year. But if you want your children to win on the bonds, do not christen them Barry or Diana - those are the names least likely to come up winners.

Women called Joy and men called Sean are the most likely to make a home insurance claim, it seems. Meanwhile, Fredericks, Ruths and Tims are the least accident prone, or the least likely to make a claim, according to the analysis by Churchill Insurance.

Home insurance claims by women called Dorothy are the most expensive to put right, while those by people called Kathyrn are the cheapest. Drivers called Natasha, Natalie, Phil and Rob are the most likely to have a car crash, according to the company e-sure.

Being called Jonathan or Nicholas means you are more likely to be driving a VW Golf, while there is an increased chance of finding a Wayne or Darren behind the wheel of a Ford Escort.

While many of the revelations may simply reflect social trends in names, some economists believe that what you are called can really have some bearing on your chances in life.

An unlikely bestselling book in the US last year was Freakonomics, by the self-styled "rogue economist" Professor Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago. By analysing a range of data, Professor Levitt showed how men with "black" names such as DeShawn were more likely to have poorer life chances than those with a "white" name such as Jake.

The book Freakonomics is due to be published in Britain next week.

'I've always hated my name'

Susan Concannon, managing director

Far from being lucky, Susan Concannon has always hated her name. As managing director of the retail stock-broking business for Halifax, she has a high-earning, successful career, but is not convinced she has been propelled to the top by her moniker.

Ms Concannon, 49, who has offices in Leeds and London and lives in Leamington Spa, said: "I've always thought of Susan as being old-fashioned. My sister is Jane and I hated my name and wanted hers. So I am surprised to hear it has topped this list. I suppose it is because I am of a certain age. In 20 years it will probably be Kylie."

She left school with A-levels and worked in the accounts department of a small engineering company where she developed interest in finance. In 1987 she joined Sharelink and became a director involved in a management buyout in 1992. In 1993, they floated the company and Charles Schwab Corporation took over in 1995.

Ms Concannon, who is married and has a 26-year-old son, joined Halifax in 1987 she launched its share-dealing arm and now has 300 staff and 500,000 customers.

She added: "But I don't think success is down to being called Susan," she added. "If only life was so easy."

Louise Cotton

'David carries no baggage'

David Yelland, former editor of The Sun

"The thing about the name David is that it doesn't have any negative connotations," says David Yelland, 42, a former editor of The Sun and now senior vice-chairman of the PR firm Weber Shandwick.

"It is classy but carries no social baggage. Unlike Piers or Quentin, which sound posh, or Kevin - at the other end of the scale - David gives no clues geographically or socially."

"It is serious without being pretentious, one of those names always on the top 10 list ... [and] is also quite a cool name so long as it's not shortened."

It is also a masculine-sounding name, useful for a man's image, he reckons: "The 'D' is quite a decisive consonant. It's not wet ... which is important if you're a guy."

He rubbished the idea that his name has been important to his success, but says he has seen those less fortunately monikered than himself stumble: "I don't believe that a name can be a help, but it can be a hindrance. No matter how illogical it might be, before you meet someone you do form an impression based on their name."

Mr Yelland believes that success just comes down to ability. "The only time a name really is important is during childhood, because that's the time your confidence is formed. You need a name that people don't take the piss out of."

Top-earning names