Brokerages gear up for longer trading hours and raise staff count

The new logo of National Stock Exchange is seen on the facade of its building in Mumbai | Photo: Reuters
Brokerages have started gearing up for longer trading hours that come into effect from October 1. Most big brokers are adding manpower to service clients who want to avail longer trading hours. While smaller firms said they may not be able to add too much manpower, they will instead improve their digital offerings. 

In May, Sebi had allowed stock exchanges to extend equity derivatives trading till 11:55 pm. The markets regulator had said the new timings would be applicable from October 1, after it studies the preparedness of market players, mainly stock exchanges and brokers.

On the same day, Sebi has given the green signal for integration of commodities and equity exchanges. 

“In terms of human resource management, we will divide our workforce into two shifts. Subsequently, we plan to hire hundred more people in phases given there is a need for additional manpower,” said Motilal Oswal, chairman and managing director of Motilal Oswal Financial Services. 

Besides increasing staff strength, brokerages are also ramping up their digital presence to extend reach.

“We are completely prepared and have adequate resources to serve clients during the extended hours. In addition, we have the IIFL Markets app, which has over 2 million downloads, providing clients access to the market anytime, anywhere,” said Sandeep Bhatt, deputy vice-president at IIFL Securities.

The timings for both the equity cash and derivatives segments now are 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. As long as the cash market timings go, China and Tokyo have shorter trading hours, while the US and India have similar timings. On the other hand, markets in Europe are open for longer trading hours.

The extended trading hours in the derivatives space will help India compete with market-friendly jurisdictions such as the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and CME Group, which offer almost round-the-clock trading in key equity indices. 

The move to extend market timings comes after domestic exchanges took steps to put an end to offshore trading in domestic contracts such as Nifty, which had gained traction overseas.

Market players have said exchanges and regulators still have to provide more information on issues such as the settlement process. 

“We are awaiting more clarity from the regulator and exchanges, as far as settlement of trading is concerned. We need to see whether the settlement will be made in two cycles, or by merging evening trades with morning trades the next day,” said Vinay Agrawal, CEO of Angel Broking. 

He added that digital offerings by the firm would be upgraded as per requirements.