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So, how many hours do bankers work?

Weekend bankingJust what are bankers' hours? The most accurate answer is "elusive."

The Oxford English Dictionary doesn't list it. Neither does Webster's.

The Dictionary of American English has it but hedges its bet, defining the phrase as: "The hours during which a bank is open to transact business." Duh.

The American Heritage Dictionary of English Usage offers a blissfully succinct definition: "A short working day."

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Indeed. But how short is short? 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.? 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.? And what are the bankers doing the rest of the time? Playing poker?

Traditionally, bankers fill out their day by first preparing to meet the public and counting up after the doors close. Since at least some of that now is handled electronically, banks are able to extend their hours, if only at the drive-through window.

So, what are bankers' hours today? That depends on where you're banking:

London: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Smaller towns close at 3 p.m.
Paris: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Some close at lunch; some remain open until 7 p.m.
Hong Kong: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
Mexico City: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Calcutta, India: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sydney, Australia: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.

But as any traveler knows, the true definition of bankers' hours is 15 minutes shorter than you thought they were.

Jay MacDonald is a contributing editor based in Florida.

-- Posted: May 8, 2002

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