Traders want fewer working hours at UK and European exchanges

By Hal Williams

EVERY computer programme, algorithm and robot introduced to the workplace theoretically enhances efficiency and cuts the workload — but the real cut is often in jobs rather than hours.

stock market charts software
Image by Csaba Nagy from Pixabay

Processes are streamlined, but the drones work the same nine-to-five routine despite the new tech’s touted labour-saving capabilities. Some even take on extra responsibility to cover for workmates who have been “let go”. Those in the c-suite, meanwhile, get richer.

Something’s wrong with this picture, and City traders have noticed. Not that traders are exactly working their fingers to the bone to make the Ferrari payments, but they are carrying the flag for the rest of us here.

They are pushing exchanges in the UK and Europe for a cut in trading hours and better work-life balance — and good on them.

The traders say the long hours they work are bad for mental health and put stress on family life. They’re calling for exchanges to open later and close earlier, from 9am to 4pm. The current opening hours of 8am to 4:30pm are often unofficially extended by pressure of work, they say, with the double whammy of wasted time in the mornings when the market is sluggish.

The Investment Association and the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) are behind this push for change, and both organisations believe shorter trading hours would ease pressure on individuals and attract a more diverse workforce.

Stock markets have failed to find gender balance in traditional trading roles, and many pundits feel that a shorter working day could help to redress that.

The AFME has lobbied stock exchanges in France, Germany and the Nordics, and the London Stock Exchange has agreed to enter into consultation on the issue.

Asian and US exchanges already function with fewer hours than those in Europe, six to six-and-a-half respectively.