Battle lines drawn over stock market opening hours
London 2 December 2019
By Samuel Agini
The BVI, the trade body for German asset managers, is worried about how the public will interpret the initiative to shorten trading hours
Europe’s equity traders cheered plans to cut their working hours, as revealed by Financial News earlier this year. But those efforts are in jeopardy after an influential trade body raised concerns the move would be seen as a ploy by rich bankers to work less.
BVI, which represents Germany’s €3.3tn asset management industry, is yet to decide whether to back the proposals. The support of the Germans is crucial given the size of their financial services industry and because the initiative would require a united front.
The stance by the BVI underlines the public’s suspicion of the banking industry a decade after the financial crisis.
Rudolf Siebel, managing director at BVI, said an opinion poll of a small number of its members showed that interest in the initiative was “limited” because of “higher priorities”, such as EU regulators’ ongoing review of post-crisis Mifid II trading rules that have heaped cost pressure on the industry.
“We never received in Germany any request for shortening trading hours in the stock exchange, either from our members or banks,” Siebel said. “We were quite surprised by the initiative.”
The proposals to cut trading hours, first revealed by FN over the summer, were led by the Association for Financial Markets in Europe, a pan-European bank lobby group, and the UK’s Investment Association, the trade body.
The plans were received positively, with the London Stock Exchange agreeing to consult its members on the proposals. Afme and the IA hope that cutting trading hours can improve working conditions, diversity and market liquidity.
A survey of 73 traders at asset managers in Europe by K&K Global Consulting, published last week, found that 73% thought it was important to reduce exchange hours to improve liquidity. Almost 60% thought the initiative would boost diversity.
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