The former top cop regulating the New York banking scene just gave his public opinion of regulators. Wall Street might be surprised to hear what he’s saying.
Benjamin Lawsky used to head up New York’s Department of Financial Services before he resigned this year to launch The Lawsky Group, a consulting firm.
His mantra now? Let ’em play!
At Sourcemedia’s Convene conference in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, Lawsky said that the role of a regulator should be like that of a good basketball referee.
“The ref should get out of the way, as long as there are guidelines in place, and let everyone play,” he said during a lunchtime Q&A session.
This hardly sounds like the same Lawsky that was a hard-charging prosecutor or DFS chief. In his time there, Lawsky imposed billions of dollars in fines and held up large private equity transactions ensuring investors were following the letter of the law when they did annuities deals.
On Wall Street, Lawsky’s tough-cop approach earned him the scorn of some finance professionals.
But in his new role, he will advise technology companies and other firms on matters like security. During his on-stage Q&A, Lawsky said that while he’s advising financial services firms on technology and security he is “doing no work in the virtual currency space at all.”
Lawsky published rules for running a bitcoin business in New York shortly before stepping down from his role as a regulator.
After his discussion Lawsky spoke with Business Insider about the event and addressed a column published on Tuesday in American Banker, a Sourcemedia publication. One of his ex-DFS colleagues penned a piece saying that consultants should be held directly accountable to regulators.
Lawsky said that while he hadn’t read Daniel Alter’s column, he agrees with its premise.
So, perhaps the man who was Wall Street’s top cop hasn’t changed very much at all.