Banks and asset managers are working on revolutionary proposals to cut stock market trading hours across Europe, Financial News has learnt.
Proponents say the plans can help to end the testosterone-fuelled culture that has deterred women from pursuing a career on the trading floor. Critics point out that simply reducing hours may not be enough to attract more women to the industry.
The Association for Financial Markets in Europe, a bank lobby group, and the UK’s Investment Association, which represents the country’s £7.7tn asset management industry, are planning to consult their members on shortening European stock market trading hours.
Opening equity markets an hour later and closing shop an hour earlier is one of the potential options, according to a person familiar with the plans. Any decision to change trading hours would be up to stock exchanges, a fact complicated by the number of operators and different time zones in the region.
April Day, head of equities at Afme, said: “There are lots of industries trying to make the working day more flexible. Why shouldn’t we be talking about it here in financial services and particularly in trading?”
A spokeswoman for the Investment Association said the organisation was taking a “strong interest” in the working culture across the industry and “how this can play a pivotal role in fostering good mental health and creating inclusive workplaces”.
Both associations stressed that proposals were still at an early stage and details had not yet been finalised.
Trading runs from 08:00 to 16:30 on the London Stock Exchange. Europe’s exchanges typically run concurrently, albeit an hour ahead because of time-zone differences. However, traders often arrive early and leave after markets close.
Trading is a notoriously high-pressured job. One former investment bank trader, who had senior management responsibilities, said he regularly worked just shy of 12 hours until 18:30 on a daily basis. The average trader would leave perhaps an hour-and-a-half earlier than that, he said, and there was seldom time for lunch.
The burden of finding childcare as early as 05:00 can exacerbate the problem.
“As someone who worked in equity sales, when I had my son, I found it very difficult to return afterwards,” Day, a former equity sales director at Dresdner Kleinwort and Panmure Gordon, said.
In March 2018, Megan Butler, director of supervision at the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, the regulator, said only 13% of people with approval to perform so-called controlled functions at trading firms were women.
Exchange operators do not need to seek specific FCA approval to alter market hours, except to ensure fair and orderly trading. However, providers of regulatory news services, through which companies publish earnings and other market information, would require approval to open later than their current opening time of 07:00.Highlight
Proponents say the plans can help to end the testosterone-fuelled culture that has deterred women from pursuing a career on the trading floor