City traders call for end to unsocial long hours

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
City workers want to cut stock market hours by 90 minutes. Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP via Getty Images

City workers are calling for stock market hours to be made shorter, saying shaving down the day would help work-life balance.

The Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), which represents banks and brokers, and the Investment Association (IA), which represents asset managers, on Thursday said 90 minutes should be knocked off stock market hours.

AFME and IA were responding to a consultation by the London Stock Exchange (LSE.L), launched last month, on whether to shorten trading days. The consultation itself followed proposals from AFME and IA.

“It’s high time we end the long hours culture, which is detrimental to diversity and mental health, and inefficient for the markets,” said Galina Dimitrova, director of capital markets at the IA.

“The London Stock Exchange now has the opportunity to lead the way. We will be looking for exchanges across Europe to follow suit.”

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The AFME and IA want the London Stock Exchange to change its opening hours to either 9am to 4pm daily or 9.30am to 4.30pm. The stock market is currently open from 8am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

The two industry groups warned that the long hours in the stock market were preventing firms recruiting diverse talent and putting off parents.

“Our members tell us that the long working days which are typical of City businesses have a negative impact on mental wellbeing and work life balance, especially when coupled with the demands of family life,” said Louisa Symington-Mills, the founder and chief executive of professional network Cityparents.

“With dual career couples increasingly common, home responsibilities are more equally shared between parents and the traditional working day often jars with family needs.”

‘More effective markets’

The London Stock Exchange has some of the longest opening hours out of global stock markets, exceeding the likes of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and the NASDAQ.

April Day, head of equities at AFME, argued a reduction in hours would benefit not only staff wellbeing but also improve the functioning of financial markets.

“We believe that a shorter trading day will improve liquidity in Europe as, rather than being thinly spread over an extended period of time, trades will be more evenly distributed over a shorter trading day,” Day said.

“This will create more effective markets, reducing trading costs for market participants and investors.”

The London Stock Exchange’s consultation on opening hours ends on Friday. A decision is expected later in the year.

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