Britain's bankers told more sleep could improve behaviour

LONDON (Reuters) - With little progress to report in efforts to improve professional conduct at Britain’s banks, the body charged with raising standards has suggested that getting a better night’s sleep might help bankers behave better.

FILE PHOTO: People walk through the Canary Wharf financial district of London, Britain, December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

The banking industry was asked by parliament to set up the Banking Standards Board in 2016 to improve behaviour after the financial crisis and a subsequent interest rate rigging scandal.

The BSB said that its fourth annual survey of efforts to improve culture and raise standards of behaviour at banks showed little change in 2019 after a jump in 2017.

Given the efforts many financial firms have been taking, that outcome was a “surprise and disappointment”, the BSB said.

Results at big banks flatlined in 2019 as they did in 2018, after earlier improvements, while scores for smaller firms had declined over the past few years, the BSB said.

A quarter of employees surveyed said working at their firm had a negative effect on their health and wellbeing, little changed since the survey began in 2016.

In a sector known for early starts and late nights entertaining clients, nearly 40% of respondents said they slept for six hours or fewer each night, with almost 30% saying they felt tired at work every or almost every day.

“Given the importance of sufficient sleep not only for physical and mental healthy, but also for the ability to exercise professional and ethical judgement, this may be something that the industry wishes to explore further,” the BSB said.

One major British financial institution, the London Stock Exchange, is consulting on whether to shorten trading hours to make it more family friendly for employees.

The BSB survey covered 81,664 employees at 29 banks and building societies.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Giles Elgood