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Call for cut in stock market trading hours to aid working parents

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent
Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

City lobby groups are proposing cutting stock market trading hours to help make banking and asset management more accessible to women and working parents.

The Investment Association, which represents City firms with £7.7tn in assets under management, and the banking lobby group the Association for Financial Markets in Europe, are planning to consult their membership on options that include reducing trading hours down from 8.5 hours to 6.5 hours.

The move could help change the culture of a high-pressure work environment that has traditionally been dominated by men willing to serve long hours.

The London Stock Exchange currently opens at 8am UK time and closes at 4:30pm but traders tends to start work earlier and head home after markets finish for the day. Other equities markets across Europe follow the same opening and closing hours on local time.

One of the options expected to be considered is opening stock markets an hour later at 9am and closing by 3:30pm. By lopping off an hour on each side, it is hoped that working parents will be able to more easily source childcare to cover their working day. The move could also help the industry address staff diversity and mental health concerns.

The consultation and its proposals, first reported by Financial News, are said to be in the early stages and have yet to be finalised.

Last year the Financial Conduct Authority said that only 13% of staff approved to take part in regulated activities at trading firms were women. That figure is is slightly higher at investment management firms at 16%.

A spokeswoman for the Investment Association said: “The IA is taking a strong interest in culture across the investment management industry, from boardrooms to the trading floor, and how this can play a pivotal role in fostering good mental health and creating inclusive workplaces where employees can thrive.”

The stock market proposals are just one way that the Investment Association has also been trying to influence gender diversity across UK firms.

Earlier this year the IA shamed 94 listed companies for failing to boost the proportion of women on their boards to at least 25%. Those who failed, including Lloyds Banking Group, Foxtons and Paddy Power, received a “red top” warning label on their annual reports.