UK markets close in 4 hours 38 minutes

'Significant majority' back shorter hours for London Stock Exchange

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
The London Stock Exchange currently opens from 8am to 4.30pm. (Tim Ireland/Xinhua via Getty)

The London Stock Exchange (LSE.L) has found strong support among customers for proposals to shorten its daily trading hours.

The London Stock Exchange on Monday released the results of a survey on proposal to shorten the trading day. The group said a “significant majority of respondents were sympathetic to the arguments that a reduction of market hours could lead to improvements in diversity and wellbeing.”

Traders also rejected concerns that a shorter trading day would hurt liquidity in markets.

“Most respondents believe shorter hours would improve the velocity of trading and liquidity available on the order book,” the London Stock Exchange said.

Read more: City traders call for end to unsocial long hours

The London Stock Exchange currently opens from 8am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. The stock market has some of the longest opening hours in the world and critics say this prevents people from more diverse backgrounds getting into the City.

“With dual career couples increasingly common, home responsibilities are more equally shared between parents and the traditional working day often jars with family needs,” Louisa Symington-Mills, the founder and chief executive of professional network Cityparents, said in January.

The exchange operator launched a formal review of its opening hours in December 2019, asking customers for input. It came amid similar reviews across Europe and lobbying from industry groups.

The most popular proposal for reform is to open the stock market from 9am to 4pm. Some investors favour 9am to 4.30pm or 9.30am to 4.30pm. A few respondents suggested introducing a lunch break in the market rather than shortening the day.

Financial market figures are shown on big screens and a ticker in the main entrance at London Stock Exchange in London, England. (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

As well as diversity benefits, advocates for shorter hours argue reform would benefit the mental health of traders and investors by cutting down on long workdays.

The Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) and the Investment Association (IA) have both publicly backed proposals for a shorter trading day.

Traders and investors who responded to the London Stock Exchange’s review said any changes must be harmonised across Europe “given the pan-European nature of many trading roles in the financial industry.”

Read more: London Stock Exchange to consider shorter trading day

Other European stock exchanges are undertaking reviews of opening hours and the London Stock Exchange said it would wait for these reviews to conclude before taking any decision, given the preference for harmonisation.

The group said it “will continue to engage actively with stakeholders and industry bodies on this topic, including discussions in relation to medium-term changes in working arrangements (such as increased working from home) that might result from the COVID-19 experience.”