Evercore Inc. appointed Celeste Mellet Brown as the investment bank’s new chief financial officer, the latest female ascent to a top post in an industry where men still dominate the upper ranks.

Photo credit: Samantha Quain

Mellet Brown, most recently CFO of Fannie Mae, will take over on Sept. 1 with Bob Walsh planning to retire after 14 years, Evercore said in a statement. Her appointment — the bank’s first female CFO — follows the promotion of three senior managing directors late last year to be co-heads of U.S. advisory, as the firm founded by Roger Altman installs the next crop of leaders to shape its future.

The financial industry is under mounting pressure to improve diversity of its leadership and has made some progress, though the top jobs primarily are held by men. Jane Fraser broke Wall Street’s glass ceiling by taking Citigroup Inc.’s top spot this year. Bank CEOs including Fraser were grilled by lawmakers on the issue in wide-ranging Congressional hearings. For Evercore, it’s honing a next generation of talent to lead the firm.

“We have a very large number of very talented people, and we’re trying to make sure we’re giving people who have the interest in leading the opportunity to develop those skills,” John S. Weinberg, Evercore co-chief executive officer and co-chairman, said in an interview.

Dan Mendelow, Naveen Nataraj and Jason Sobol were promoted to join Tim LaLonde as co-heads of U.S. advisory, according to a December memo to staff seen by Bloomberg. The three men joined the firm between 2001 and 2004.

The U.S. leaders were elevated after excelling at client coverage and completing complex transactions, while also committing to the firms’ “entrepreneurial, no bureaucracy” approach to management, executives said in the memo. In late 2019, Matthew Lindsey-Clark was named CEO of Evercore’s European business, while Joe Chambers was appointed chief operating officer of that unit.

In recent years, Evercore has managed to surpass deal fees collected by Wall Street titans including Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. Its management transitions are meant to help the firm last long after Altman and early rainmakers such as Eduardo Mestre leave the top ranks.

Altman, now 75, started the firm in 1996. He remained CEO until 2009, when the firm hired Ralph Schlosstein, a founder of investment giant BlackRock Inc., who’s now co-chairman and co-CEO.

Early managers “are getting a little bit older, and so the idea here is to give the next generation of leaders an opportunity to lead some of our larger businesses,” said Schlosstein, 70. He has previously said the firm’s ambition was to be “mentioned in the same breath as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley.

Evercore is seeking to promote talented people who have been at the firm for many of the most formative years of their career. About half of the senior managing directors named in the past three years at the advisory group were promoted from within.

Weinberg — a scion of the family that ran Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for most of its existence — was tapped as Evercore’s executive chairman in 2016. He was named to his most recent role last year. Schlosstein said that whenever he steps down Weinberg will be sole CEO.

“We had a record year last year, and we’re off to a record start this year, so there’s nothing imminent to announce in regard to the next step in that transition,” Schlosstein said.