City traders have urged UK and European exchanges to cut trading hours to improve work life balance.
They want exchanges to open 09:00 to 16:00, instead of 08:00 to 16:30.
Shorter trading hours would cut pressure on traders, and attract a more diverse range of workers, they said.
Stock market trading has traditionally been male dominated, and still lags behind other areas of financial services in terms of attracting women into roles, one association said.
April Day, head of equities at the Association for Financial Markets in Europe, (AFME) said her organisation had been in contact with stock exchanges in London, Paris, Germany and the Nordic region, calling for a reduction in trading hours.
The request is being made in conjunction with fellow trader body the Investment Association.
Traders normally work for a few hours either side of the current 8.5 trading hours, Ms Day said.
By contrast, US exchanges are open for 6.5 hours, and Asian exchanges for 6.
“A shorter working day would improve flexibility for employees and attract a more diverse range of individuals onto trading floors,” Ms Day said.
For example, trading floors need to attract more women, she said. “It’s fair to say [trading] is still male dominated.”
The London Stock Exchange said it would launch a consultation on the request.
- Millennial men demand better parental leave
- UK one of ‘least family friendly’ countries in Europe
A knock-on effect of having a smaller intake of women in junior positions means that there are relatively few women in senior management positions in investment and banking trading, Ms Day said.
Juggling work and childcare responsibilities can be a challenge for both men and women, she added.
“It’s hard to find childcare at five o’clock in the morning,” she said.
Shorter trading hours would improve the liquidity of stocks – that is, how quickly and easily an asset can be converted into cash – as trades would be less thinly spread, she said.
Long hours in a high-pressure job can also exacerbate any mental health difficulties traders may be suffering, Ms Day added.
Galina Dimitrova, director of capital markets at the Investment Association, concurred: “We have heard many deeply moving stories of traders’ mental health and personal life being impacted by their working hours.
“Whilst it is no silver bullet, we hope this European-wide review could start to lead to a step change in more efficient markets to the benefit of savers and those who operate them.”
The London Stock Exchange said it strongly supported improving diversity and workplace culture in the City.
It said the call from the trader associations was “an important suggestion for a European-wide adjustment to trading hours”.
“We intend to consider the request in a formal consultation with London Stock Exchange’s global members and customers,” it added.