Wells Fargo’s John Stumpf Is the Latest Victim of ‘CEO of the Year’ Curse

Four of the last five winners of this prize have resigned soon after.

By the time Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf resigned on Wednesday, many of his critics were already wondering what took so long.

Regulators and consumer watchdogs had been calling for heads to roll since the bank admitted last month that thousands of its employees opened sham accounts in the names of unwitting customers. But flash back to just nine months ago, and Stumpf’s legacy looked quite different. Indeed, the Wells Fargo WFC -0.87% chief appeared to be at the top of his career, so much so that in January, investment research firm Morningstar MORN 0.47% awarded Stumpf its annual CEO of the Year title for 2015, honoring him over the two runners-up, Amazon AMZN 0.29% CEO Jeff Bezos and Jeff Immelt, chief of GE GE 0.40% .

Morningstar’s awards criteria factor in both long-term performance—leadership, shareholder returns and putting a “stamp on an industry”—as well as events of the past year. But the Jeffs now may want to thank Morningstar for passing them over. That’s because Stumpf is Morningstar’s second winner in a row to resign his post relatively soon after getting the nod. In all, four out of the past five Morningstar CEO of the Year honorees have stepped down within about a year of receiving the award.

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