Before the pandemic hit, and even more so with the pressures of the past year, the senior living sector has experienced a high volume of top-tier executive retirements, according to an analysis by specialty investment bank Ziegler.

Roughly 20% of the largest not-for-profit senior living organizations have turned over the position of CEO in the past three years, yet about a third of the organizations have no formal succession plan in place. 

Ziegler advises putting a plan in place early to find the ideal experienced candidate who aligns with the organization’s mission and culture. Boards and current leaders need to be pro-active rather than reactive in identifying needs before a leader announces their retirement or departure; doing so will streamline the process once the vacancy arises, according to the company.

As the oldest of the baby boomer generation transitions from the workforce to retirement, not-for-profit senior living organizations increasingly are turning to search firms to identify candidates, Ziegler said. Multi-site organizations are more likely to contact an executive search firm for their needs compared with single-site organizations.

Replacement leaders have been fairly evenly split between internal candidates and external candidates, the bank found in its analysis. Most external candidates come from a related healthcare field, Ziegler said.