CEO Turnover at Record High, 151 September CEO Exits

Churn in the C-Suite slowed in September, but remained well above average, as companies announced 151 chief executive exits, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Last month’s total was 5% lower than the 159 CEO exits announced in August, the highest monthly total on record. It is 2% higher than the 148 CEO changes announced in the same month last year. September marks the eighth time this year that CEO changes were higher than the corresponding month one year earlier.

The third quarter saw 434 chief executives leave their posts, the highest quarterly total on record. It is 40% higher than the 310 CEO changes recorded in the second quarter of this year, and 9.6% higher than the 396 CEO exits recorded in the same quarter last year.

Last quarter’s total is 2% higher than Q4 2018, which had the previous highest quarterly total, when 425 CEO exits were recorded.

So far this year, 1,160 chief executives have left their posts, 13% more than the 1,027 CEOs who left the top spot at companies through the third quarter last year. It is the highest total of CEO exits in the first nine months of a year since Challenger began tracking in 2002.

“Coming off a decade-long expansion, companies that started and developed during this period find themselves needing new leadership to continue to grow,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

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