European banking and asset management bodies are considering a push to boost the number of women joining the financial sector by cutting stock market trading hours.
The Association for Financial Markets in Europe, which represents the region's banks, and the Investment Association, the trade body representing the UK's £7.7 trillion asset management industry, said on Monday that they were planning to consult their members on the idea.
"Compressed market opening times is an issue we are discussing with our members," said Simon Lewis, chief executive of AFME. "Work is at an early stage but we are supportive...of proposals that would encourage more flexible working practices in the European equities trading market."
The world of equity trading is notoriously male-dominated, with market participants saying the aggressive trading floor culture makes it difficult to recruit and retain female traders.
The London Stock Exchange and other European stock markets including Frankfurt's Deutsche Börse are open from 8am to 4:30pm, but traders often start their working days earlier and leave after markets have closed.
Opening markets an hour later and closing an hour earlier is one option under consideration, according to Financial News, which first reported the talks. Both the AFME and the Investment Association emphasised that discussions remained in the early stages.
Reducing the working day could help improve traders’ work-life balance and make it easier for working parents to find childcare. People working in high-pressure industries such as finance can face mental health problems, with men less likely than women to seek help.
The Investment Association, which counts BlackRock and JPMorgan Asset Management among its members, said the organisation had 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”.
Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, said this year that finance "still doesn't offer enough for women", whose lack of representation in senior roles was "an enormous missed opportunity".
Just 13 per cent of candidates approved last year by the Financial Conduct Authority for senior trading roles were women.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019