2013 September CEO Report: 107 CEOs Out, Highest Quarterly Total Since Q4 2008

Turnover among the nation’s chief executive officers declined slightly in September as 107 planned CEO departures were reported, down 5.6 percent from the 113 in August, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The September total was up 12.6 percent from the same month a year ago when 95 were recorded. This marks the third consecutive month in which CEO changes outpaced the same month last year.

Overall, third-quarter CEO departures totaling 348 are up 23 percent from the 282 announced during the same three-month span in 2012. It is the highest quarterly since 352 CEO changes were recorded in the fourth quarter of 2008, the year Challenger tracked the most CEO changes on record with 1,484.

Challenger has now tracked 949 CEO changes so far this year, 6.5 percent more than the 891 departures announced in the first nine months of 2012.

Amid significant changes in the health care landscape, due to the Affordable Care Act and other factors, this sector led all industries in third-quarter CEO turnover with 78, including 26 in September. This marks the highest quarterly total for health care on record. To date, health care organizations have seen 195 CEO changes, 47 percent more than the sector with the next heaviest turnover (government/nonprofit, 133).

“The changes to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, coupled with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, are contributing to the shake-up in leadership. It is not just hospitals and health systems that are being impacted; we are seeing a lot of CEO moves at health technology firms, medical device companies, and pharmaceutical companies. Many of these organizations are looking for CEOs better equipped to navigate through this period of tumult and uncertainty,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Well behind health care’s 26 September CEO changes, computer firms followed with 12 CEO changes during the month, bringing the quarterly total to 38. The financial industry saw 11 chief executive changes in September, contributing to the 41 tracked in the third quarter. Government/Non-Profit entities also announced 11 CEO changes in September and 55 for Q3.

Resignation was the most oft-cited reason for departure in September, with 34 CEOs resigning. This brings the year-to-date total for resignations to 273. Another 21 CEOs stepped down into other chief-level or board position last month. Nineteen CEOs retired and 15 found new positions in other companies.