Every year, Spencer Stuart sends me a copy of their ‘Canadian Spencer Stuart Board Index – Board Trends and Practices of Leading Canadian Companies’. Yesterday’s mail brought the 2009 study.

This years theme: ‘The Route to the Top and Company Performance in CEO Transition’ is and interesting look at how Canadian CEO’s get to the stop, how long they stay and what they accomplish.

Some interesting facts from the study:

Internal Promotion: The rate of internal promotion to CEO has remained unchanged in the past decade (70% – which seems like a pretty good #) despite increased focus on succession planning.

Industry Background: in 2009, 83% of CEO’s recruited from outside the firm came from the same industry grouping as the firm. That’s up from 50% 10 years ago. One in four companies now go abroad to get that industry experience up from one in ten a decade ago.

Turnover: 13% is the 2009 # for annual CEO turnover, vs. 10% ten years ago. However, forced departures is at 44% of all turnovers, vs 27% – 30% in the past.

Tenure: the median stint for CEO’s who survived successfully is 5 years. Only 10% survived seven to nine years.

Performance/Backgrounds: Interesting. In every case where a new CEO was brought in, the companies led by externally recruited CEO’s performed better. Also, finance types performed the best. Sales/marketing types didn’t. Period.

I’m not sure there’s any real surprises here given trends in governance, performance and the economy. Thoughts?