City traders call for shorter trading hours to improve inclusivity and work-life balance.

Earlier this month, the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) and the Investment Association (AI) joined forces to urge UK and European exchanges to cut hours in a bid to improve diversity, promote inclusivity and increase wellbeing on the trading floor.

The industry bodies believe shortened operating hours – from the current 8am-4.30pm to 9am-4pm GMT (from 9am-5pm to 10am-5pm CET) – would have a positive impact on traders’ mental health, while also improving the recruitment and retention of diverse talent in the financial sector – in particular, working mothers.

Galina Dimitrova, Director of Capital Markets at the IA, said: “From boardrooms to trading floors, we need to improve the ways our businesses work to create more inclusive environments where all employees can thrive. Shortening trading hours, enabling a better work-life balance could bring significant benefits to City workers and firms, who will be able to attract a broader diversity of talent.”

Long-hours working cultures are not conducive to a positive work-life balance nor manageable for working parents. With traders expected to start their day-long before markets open and finish long after markets close, opportunities for women to develop or indeed maintain their career alongside a family are near impossible.

The proposed change to City traders’ working hours, therefore, offers a great opportunity to redress the gender balance in a traditionally male-dominated realm and open the door to a new generation of leaders. In order for workplaces to be truly inclusive, they must flex and adapt working structures and practices to enable their people to fulfil their roles alongside the external demands of their personal lives – not at the detriment or sacrifice of either their work or personal lives.

This action to improve diversity, inclusivity and wellbeing will, in turn, also lead to improved productivity and efficiency in trading, as well as greater innovation and resilience for financial markets in the long-term.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Lee Hodgkinson, Chief Executive of proprietary trading company OSTC, explained: “A big lesson of the financial crisis was that the lack of diversity led to groupthink on an industrial scale. So, anything that the industry can do to encourage greater inclusivity and gender diversity on the trading floor is to be encouraged.”

At this stage, the London Stock Exchange has responded to AFME and AI’s call by saying they would consult on the matter. Consultation – albeit not quite an action – is a step forward, the conclusions from which we at Tell Jane eagerly await.

 

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