Axis Capital CEO Albert Benchimol leaves post

  • After 11 years in the position
  • Praise for Benchimol
  • Vince Tizzio taking over
  • Benchimol spoke at length and said 141 words

(exechange) — Pembroke, Bermuda, December 20, 2022 — Albert Benchimol, chief executive of Axis Capital, leaves his position. As announced by Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, December 20, 2022, Albert A. Benchimol leaves his post as chief executive officer at the provider of specialty lines insurance and treaty reinsurance, after 11 years in the role, effective May 4, 2023.

Benchimol leaves the company effective December 31, 2023.

Albert Benchimol’s duties as CEO will be taken over by Vincent C. (Vince) Tizzio, currently CEO Specialty Insurance and Reinsurance at Axis Capital Holdings Ltd.

“Helping us to become even more agile and efficient”

Axis Capital did not give an explicit reason for Albert Benchimol’s planned departure from the CEO post. Henry Smith, Chair of the Axis Board of Directors, said: “During his first year with the Company, Vince has made an impressive impact, challenging Axis to build on its progress by driving further profitable premium growth for its specialty insurance business, identifying exciting new avenues to grow the business, and helping us to become even more agile and efficient in our front-end operations.”

The top three reasons cited in corporate announcements for CEO departures over the past 12 months are performance issues (27% of cases), implementation of a planned succession (16.4%) and the statement that the time was right for a change (8.5%), according to exechange data. Other motives given for leadership changes included the outgoing CEO’s wish to pursue other opportunities (6.4% of cases), personal reasons (3%) and conduct issues (2.4%). Rather rarely stated reasons are health problems (2.1% of cases), career change (2.1%), the desire for more time with family (0.9%), disagreement (0.6%) and death (0.6%). Sometimes, more than one reason was given. In 30% of cases, no reason was given.

Precise information regarding Albert Benchimol’s future plans was not immediately available.

“Step down/retire/leaving”

Axis Capital said: “[F]ollowing a career in (re)insurance and banking that has spanned more than four decades – including ten years as President and CEO of Axis – Albert A. Benchimol will step down from his role on May 4, 2023, timed to the Company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), and will retire at the end of 2023.”

Axis Capital further said: “Albert Benchimol, the Company’s current Chief Executive Officer and President, will be leaving the Company effective December 31, 2023 timed to the completion of his employment agreement.”

Generally, retirements are seen as formally voluntary departures. Still, CEOs may also be pressured to accelerate their retirement plans. In fact, 32% of the time “retire” was used in the past 12 months, the CEO departure received a Push-out Score above the critical threshold of 5, indicating elevated pressure.

Share price increase since December 2017

The announcement follows an increase in Axis Capital Holdings Ltd.’s share price of 4% since December 2017.

In the position of CEO since 2012

Albert Benchimol became CEO of the Company in 2012.

Benchimol will continue with Axis through year-end as a strategic advisor to the Company.

In the months ahead, Benchimol and Tizzio will partner to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

Benchimol’s bio reads as follows:

  • Has served as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer since May 2012. He previously served as the Company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from January 2011 until May 2012.
  • Served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of PartnerRe Ltd. from April 2000 through September 2010 and as Chief Executive Officer of PartnerRe Ltd.’s Capital Markets Group business unit from June 2007 through September 2010.
  • Prior to joining PartnerRe, Benchimol was Senior Vice President and Treasurer at Reliance Group Holdings, Inc. for 11 years and was previously with the Bank of Montreal from 1982 to 1989.
  • Education: B.S. from McGill University and M.B.A. from McGill University
  • U.S. Public Company Boards: None.
141 words by Albert Benchimol

In the news release announcing his departure as CEO of Axis Capital Holdings Ltd., Albert Benchimol received praise.

In the announcement of the leadership change, Albert Benchimol spoke at length and said 141 words.

“I have enormous confidence in Vince”

Albert Benchimol stated: “Serving as President and CEO of Axis has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of my professional career. I’m grateful to my fellow colleagues – past and present – for their support, commitment, and dedication, and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished together. Even with all the progress that’s been achieved, I believe Axis has only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. I have enormous confidence in Vince and his leadership, and I have comfort knowing that I am leaving the Company in very strong hands. Vince is deeply committed to our strategy of advancing Axis as a leader in specialty. In a short period of time, he’s made an enormous positive impact, mobilizing the team to even further elevate our ambitions, leverage our extensive market knowledge and relationships, while delivering added value to our customers and the market.”

Over the past 12 months, 26% of all outgoing CEOs remained silent in the departure announcement, according to data compiled by exechange. Departing CEOs who did make a statement said an average of 108 words. The longest statement was 382 words. The shortest statement was 23 words. Leadership transitions in which departing CEOs provide conspicuously short, excessively long or no explanations for their move are statistically associated with elevated pressure and show an increased incidence of Push-out Scores above the critical threshold of 5.

33% of CEOs are forced out or fired

When CEO departures are announced, exechange determines the Push-out Score on a scale of 0 to 10 to assess how likely it is that the chief executive was pushed out or felt pressure to leave the position, with 0 being most likely a voluntary move and 10 being most likely a forced exit. Anything over a 5 indicates that there are valid reasons to believe an executive may have been pushed out.

Of the 330 CEO departures in the Russell 3000 Index evaluated over the past 12 months (December 20, 2021, to December 19, 2022), the average Push-out Score was 5.6, according to exechange data. References to conduct issues, disagreements and irregularities lead to the highest Push-out Scores. When time with family, performance issues or other opportunities were cited as departure reasons, the average Push-out Scores were also significantly elevated.

Around 33% of the CEO departure events from the past 12 months received Push-out Scores of 8 or higher.

In other words, in the past 12 months, three in 10 departing CEOs were forced out or fired.

Pressure in the financials sector substantially below the critical threshold

Some industries are under generally higher pressure than others, and CEOs are feeling the strain. In the past 12 months, the communication, consumer staples and health care sectors showed the highest average Push-out Scores. By contrast, pressure on CEOs was lowest in the real estate, industrials and financials sectors, as measured by average Push-out Scores.

In the financials sector, which includes Axis Capital Holdings Ltd., the average Push-out Score over the past 12 months was 4.4, which is substantially below the critical threshold of 5.

Nevertheless, even in this sector, some CEOs were compelled to leave their posts under what appeared to be severe stress. In the financials sector, 12 exiting CEOs received Push-out Scores of 8 or higher over the past 12 months, indicating that they were most likely forced out or faced strong pressure to step down.

Push-out Score for Albert Benchimol’s move determined

The Push-out Score regarding Albert Benchimol’s move is explained point by point in the exechange report.

exechange reached out to Axis Capital and offered the company the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 52.2022 ($).