London’s financial brothers want shorter working hours. And maybe fewer brothers too.
In a letter to the London Stock Exchange and other European trading venues today, two traders’ associations called for a shorter working day. The 8.5 hours that the markets are currently open for require traders to work long hours on either side of the core hours, they said. These long hours affect worker wellbeing and hinder various hiring goals.
Trading hours in Europe are long compared to the rest of the world. Asia is open for 6 hours and the US for 6.5 hours. The European hours are partially extended to overlap these markets. But being a bridge has a human cost.
“This culture of long hours has an impact on the mental health and well-being of traders,” said a press release in the letter that the London Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) and the Investment Association (IA) to the stock exchanges today having sent. “It has also been identified as a major barrier to recruiting and retaining more diverse talent, especially those with family or caring responsibilities.” This observation is in line with other industries. Many sectors such as technology and banking have admitted in recent years that the structure of work is one of the reasons why women and people with less privileged economic backgrounds are not well represented. Long hours make it difficult for parents, caregivers, or other people with tasks other than work to get ahead.
The industry associations suggest that shorter working hours would make retailers happier and more diverse. “It is hoped that the proposed shortened day could also have an impact on work culture by improving work-life balance and being a necessary step in creating more diverse and inclusive retail space,” the press release said. The AFME also says the 90 minute cut would make the markets more efficient as the first and last hours of the day are comparatively slow in terms of trading volume.
The call comes at a time when companies around the world are increasingly serious about employee wellbeing, and when reducing working hours and increasing productivity are high on the global agenda. This week, a study by Microsoft Japan found that employees increased their revenue by nearly 40% when they worked four days instead of five, possibly because the extra free time left them both rested and motivated.
One of the benefits that most workers expect from their job, according to a study, is that they spend less time there.