In our January 2011 Bulletin we reported that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had announced his intention of merging the New York State Banking and Insurance Departments and creating a unified Department of Financial Services (“DFS”). The merger, which will take effect on 3 October 2011, will combine the two oldest financial services regulatory agencies in the United States (established in 1851 and 1860, respectively) into a single agency.

On 16 May 2011, Governor Cuomo announced the appointment of Benjamin M. Lawsky as the first Superintendent of DFS. Mr. Lawsky is currently Governor Cuomo’s Chief of Staff. He previously served as an assistant to Governor Cuomo in his prior position as Attorney General, and before that he was a federal prosecutor and Chief Counsel to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Mr. Lawsky’s appointment was unanimously confirmed by the New York State Senate on 24 May 2011.

Governor Cuomo also announced on 16 May 2011 that James J. Wrynn, who has served as Superintendent of Insurance since 2009, will become the Deputy Superintendent of DFS. Prior to becoming Superintendent of Insurance, Mr. Wrynn was a trial attorney focusing in the area of insurance.

The stated purpose of creating the new DFS is to save taxpayer dollars as well as to streamline regulation. Governor Cuomo had previously stated in his initial State of the State address on 5 January 2011, that artificial boundaries between the departments had allowed certain activities to fall through the cracks in regulation, and a combined department housed under a common umbrella would be able to eliminate such issues and could do a better job protecting consumers and regulating Wall Street.