CEO turnover in decline as internal candidates rise to the top

Turnover among CEOs is in decline, leading to the first rise in average tenure amongst FTSE 100 CEOs in three years, according to the annual Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker.

  • CEO turnover falls to 10% among FTSE 100
  • Average tenure increases to five years and six months
  • Internal promotions account for 70% of recent CEO appointments
  • CEO ‘merry-go-round’ at a standstill, as number of career CEOs remains stagnant 

London, 12th June – Turnover among CEOs is in decline, leading to the first rise in average tenure amongst FTSE 100 CEOs in three years, according to the annual Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker.

The findings reveal that in the past year, CEO turnover was just 10%, down from 14% in the previous year. As a result, the average tenure among FTSE 100 CEOs has risen to five years and six months, up from five years and two months in 2018. This trend presents a reverse of previous years, which saw average CEO tenure stagnant at five years and two months in 2018 and 2017, and falling from five years and three months in 2016.

Charlie Grubb, UK Managing Director, Robert Half Executive Search commented: “Following a long period of decline we have reached an inflexion point in the average tenure of today’s CEOs, driven by lower rates of turnover. 

“While workplaces are undoubtedly going through a period of substantial change and demanding new skill sets, it is encouraging that this isn’t resulting in knee-jerk changes of leadership. In times of change, continuity and consistency can be vital, and it is important for companies, stakeholders and shareholders to give CEOs the freedom to take a longer-term view of company strategy and results without fearing for their jobs.”

For the FTSE 100 companies that did go through a CEO change, in-company experience was highly valued. Seventy per cent of new CEOs were a result of internal promotions, bringing the total across the FTSE 100 to 46%, up from 40% last year.

Furthermore, 15% of FTSE 100 CEOs have spent their whole careers with the same company. This has been rising year-on-year since 2015 when it stood at just 7%.

In contrast, the number of ‘career CEOs’, with experience at the top of multiple corporates, has remained stagnant at 13% following a steady decline since 2015 when this figure stood at 18%.

Charlie Grubb commented: “The CEO merry-go-round is slowing in favour of candidates with a long track record at the companies they are to lead.”
“Getting the leadership right throughout all levels of the organisations is something we are seeing becoming more important. With the next CEO likely to come from internal promotion, having a strong succession plan in place is vital to help ensure a smooth transition process and prevent unwanted hiccups. Training and support must be provided throughout the talent pipeline to ensure that candidates have the necessary skills to step up when necessary.”

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Notes to editors

About the Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker
Robert Half conducted annual research on CEOs of the FTSE100 Index by analysing publicly available sources of information including company websites, financial and company announcements, bios and press releases about FTSE100 CEOs to track trends including their professional career backgrounds, age, gender, nationality and length of tenure. The research was analysed from the period 1 April 2018 – 31 March 2019, and all results are correct to the best of our knowledge.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at and