A total of 219 chief executive officers left their posts in January, the highest month on record, according to business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Last month's total is 27% higher than the previous monthly record of 172 in October of 2019. January's record comes after 2019 marked the biggest year ever for CEO exits, totaling more than 1,600. The firm noted that CEO departures have been steadily trending upward since August 2018.
"January is typically a busy month for CEO turnover, as companies make leadership changes after assessing business conditions at the end of the fiscal year," said Andrew Challenger, vice president of the firm, in a release.
Thirty-eight of the chief executives that left their posts were from public companies.
Perhaps the most notable CEO exit in January was IBM's Virginia "Ginni" Rometty. Shares of the technology company jumped 5% in extended trading on the day the company said Arvind Krishna is becoming its 10th CEO starting April 6.
Of the 198 replacement CEOs in January, 107 of them came from outside the company.
"This continues the trend from last year which saw companies hiring external candidates versus grooming someone from within," Challenger said.
— With reporting from CNBC's Nate Rattner.