Service, Financial Sector CEOs Most Often Shown Door in May

June 3, 2004 ( - The service and financial sectors are currently leading the way in chief executive turnover.

The two industries accounted for 29, or 51%, of the 57 chief executive changes recorded in May, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. On a year-to-date basis, they have combined to announce 120 departures, 41% of the 292 total. One or the other has announced the highest number of CEO changes in each month so far in 2004. They have represented the first- and second-ranked industries for CEO turnover in three of the first five months.

“The large number of departures in services and financial firms does not necessarily mean these sectors are in trouble. In fact, the opposite may be true. Part of the process of recovery for some companies includes a change of leadership,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Overall, May’s CEO changes were 8.1% fewer than the 62 in April and 21% fewer than the March figure of 72, the highest number of monthly CEO departures in 2004, Challenger said.

The year to date figure is down 7.3% from the 315 CEO changes recorded during the first five months of 2002, the last year for which 12 months of data were collected.

Nearly half (46%) of the companies announcing CEO changes gave no reason for the executive’s departure. Thirteen or 23% indicated that the executive planned to retire.