On 3 October 2011, the State of New York officially launched the New York Department of Financial Services (the “NYDFS”), merging the New York State Banking and Insurance Departments. The NYDFS will consist of five main divisions: the Insurance Division, the Banking Division, the Financial Frauds and Consumer Protection Division, the Real Estate Finance Division, and the Capital Markets Division. The Insurance Division will carry on the core functions of regulating all insurance activities in New York, including life, property and health insurance. The NYDFS is headed by a Superintendent of Financial Services. Benjamin M. Lawsky, the former Chief of Staff for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, is serving as the first such superintendent. James Wrynn, the former Superintendent of Insurance, is now serving as the Deputy Superintendent of the NYDFS.
Governor Cuomo had stated his intention to form a combined NYDFS in his State of the State address delivered on 5 January 2011. Governor Cuomo stated then that artificial boundaries between the former departments allowed certain activities to fall through the cracks in regulation. Housing the separate regulatory departments under the NYDFS will allow for better communication and cooperation between the regulatory arms resulting in stronger regulation of Wall Street and better protections for consumers. In addition, the combined NYDFS will save taxpayer dollars through increased efficiency. Superintendent Lawsky has stated that the NYDFS is poised to achieve more than $25 million in budget savings in its first year alone.