Following the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) and Investment Association’s call to shorten trading hours last week, Transtrend’s Harold de Boer responds.
We do agree on one point: The long hours culture widespread in the investment industry does impact traders’ mental health and well-being. Traders should indeed not sit behind their trading screens for 8.5 hours or more. Not even for 6 hours. However, this does not require shorter trading hours.
Humans are descendants of hunters. The forest was open for 24 hours a day. This did not result in stressed hunters running after animals for 24 hours a day! We choose our convenient moment of acting.
Our traders work in shifts. Traders working in shifts transfer their tasks to each other after some hours of intense activity. A very important element of that transfer is an offload of potential stress and/or worries associated with trading.
This offloading does not only help the traders’ health and well-being, it also prevents against out-of-control situations like the ones that happened to Nick Leeson and Jérôme Kerviel.
Traders working in shifts are enjoying periods in which they bring their children to school and periods in which they get their children from school. Periods in which they get their children out of bed and have breakfast with them, and periods in which they prepare a healthy dinner for the whole family.
Working in shifts enables flexibility. This improves work-life balance and provides a necessary step towards creating a more diverse and inclusive trading culture. Modern traders operate in global markets. European traders do not only have to trade in European markets, but also on exchanges in Australia, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
And it’s not only European traders trading on European exchanges. Does AFME propose the whole world to adapt to the European daylight hours?
Just like our ancestors’ forest, the global world is open for 24 hours a day. Exchanges open for 24 hours offers everyone everywhere the opportunity to trade whenever it suits him or her, and even more important, not to trade when it doesn’t.
Traders not able to make that pick need help. But not from exchanges.
De Boer is managing director at Transtrend, which manages more than $5bn in systematic strategies. Read the AFME and Investment Association’s proposal here.