The Society of Remisiers (Singapore)

Is it wise to take away daily lunch breaks?

This article said it all our concerns & worries.   I fully agreed & supported!

Is it wise to take away daily lunch breaks?
One of the traits of Singaporeans is their love of food. So when the Singapore Exchange recently floated a proposal to do away with the daily hour-and-a-half lunch break, it was little wonder that the very thought brought a howl of protests from the broking fraternity, especially the remisiers and traders who are the backbone of the retail securities trade.

For the exchange, which depends largely on trading volume to boost its income, the extra session of 90 minutes could boost market turnover by 8 to 10 per cent. That's according to SGX Chief Executive Officer Magnus Bocker, who gave that estimate to members of the Foreign Correspondents Association - incidentally at a luncheon.

But would it be worth it? Already the Singapore Exchange is said to have one of the longest trading periods of any exchange. Currently the exchange operates between 9am and 5pm with a break between 12.30pm and 2pm. The exchanges of Hong Kong, Tokyo and India operate on shorter hours.

For sure other exchanges in the region, such as Hong Kong and Tokyo and the Indian exchanges are thinking along the same lines - either to cut down the lunch break or do away with it altogether. By the way, Hong Kong's present two-hour break is the longest of the world's top 20 bourses.

The doing away with the lunch break is expected to be the forerunner of 24-hour trading.

However, many people believe the extra trading time is not worth the effort and that its advocates are driven more by greed and selfishness, with little thought given to the overall good and health of the trading community.

After all, exchange officials could still go for their lunch, while the people actually executing the trades would have to settle for a sandwich or other fast food at their tables. No more wine and gourmet meals for the traders, perhaps to the chagrin of restaurants and restaurateurs.

But the lunch break is not only for meals. Many use it to deal with their paperwork or meet their clients or to clear the cheques that have been issued by clients. Others use it to attend to some other personal chore, like meeting up with their friends or spouses, or even seeing their children. Some even use that time to go to the gym for their daily exercises.

As it is, many investors already bother their brokers with calls late at night to trade on the bourses of Europe and the US.

So why impose an extra burden on them by taking away their lunch break?

Some are asking if the exchange is now trying to compete with the casinos here so that people can gamble round the clock?

People in the business are not automatons. Life is not all about making money.

According to a recent article, more than100 studies are said to have shown that workers are more effective when they take breaks.

One study from the University of Wisconsin even found that stock markets that shut down for lunch, like Tokyo's, are less volatile than stock markets that don't, like the New York Stock Exchange.

Workplace expert and author Tony Schwartz, who is president of TheEnergyProject and advocates that workers take back their lunch break, warns: "Human beings are not designed to run like computers, at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. We're rhythmic beings, and we operate best when we pulse between spending and intermittently renewing energy."

Many doctors also think that those who skip lunch consume far more calories. This is because these people are more likely to grab a bite from a fast food joint and eat it mindlessly at their desk.

And as Mr Schwartz also notes: "The key to productivity isn't the number of hours you invest, it's what you're able to accomplish during the hours we're working. When you work continuously, you get more fatigued and less productive as the day wears on. The quality of your work also suffers."

The best way for the exchange to boost business is to have greater depth by enticing more quality companies to list.

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Thursday, 02 September 2010 16:02


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