US Markets

The idea of a 4-day workweek is more popular than ever. Here's why it's unlikely to come to Wall Street anytime soon

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Here's what could happen to markets if Wall Street shifted to a 4-day...
Key Points
  • Proponents of standardizing a four-day workweek point to the benefits to employees' well-being.
  • Either lengthening or shortening trading hours could allow different types of investors more access to the markets.

The push for a four-day workweek has gained traction during the coronavirus pandemic, even grabbing the attention of Congress, but a shorter workweek may be difficult to implement on Wall Street.

The finance sector has "always been a culture of heavy hours and working a lot," said Jason Snipe, founder and CIO of Odyssey Capital Advisors. "Now that we've been forced to stop to a certain degree and reorient ourselves because of the Covid environment, it has allowed us to reexamine what that culture is."

Proponents of a shorter workweek point to the harm overworking does to a person's physical and mental health as a reason to shift to fewer hours.

James Angel, associate professor of finance at Georgetown University, said he would be surprised if U.S. stock exchanges shortened their trading hours.

"If anything we might see longer trading hours," he said. "People trade more when the market is open, and the industry knows this. So they certainly are going to be in no hurry to shut down the cash register."

The stock market does have a history of changing trading hours. In 1952, the New York Stock Exchange got rid of Saturday trading hours, and it added a half-hour to the trading day in the 1980s.

There could be potential benefits to shortening hours, such as attracting more diverse talent to the industry.

"How can we make the business more attractive to women and other people who've previously been discriminated against in the industry?" Angel said. "One of the things floating around in Europe is the idea of shortening their trading hours."

Longer hours, on the other hand, could be beneficial to certain market participants, such as West Coast investors.

There are some regulatory caveats for exchanges looking to change their hours. If an exchange would like to alter its trading hours, it would have to first get approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange declined CNBC's request for comment.

Watch the video above to find out more about the costs and benefits of a four-day workweek on Wall Street.

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