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The hot new trend among CEOs is to retire

Steve Ballmer’s announced retirement as Microsoft’s CEO last week was a surprise to many, but it follows a distinct trend of company chiefs trading in a corner office for the kitchen table. July 2013 saw an explosion in CEO retirements according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a corporate employment consulting firm which tracks executive changes.

Nearly seven times as many CEOs retired in July 2013 as in July 2012, and 46.3% more CEOs retired in July than in June.

Number-of-CEO-retirements-2012-2013_chartbuilder

The surge of retirements in July accelerated this year’s pace past the rate of last year. At then end of July 2012, 143 CEOs had retired; so far this year 162 have stepped down, a 13.2% increase.

Cumulative-CEO-retirements-2012-2013_chartbuilder

The average tenure of a departing CEO in July was 10 years. Corporate profits over the past 10 years have increased 143%—an annualized rate of 9.8%—according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. In 2012, profits only increased 3.47%.

US-corporate-profits-cp_chartbuilder (2)

Having navigated their companies through the Great Recession, retiring CEOs may be taking to the golf course as a way to solidify their legacy. July is an apt time to leave as it is the new year on many corporate fiscal calendars.

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