What flinty-eyed careerist wouldn't want an executive-level job helping New York State keep the big banks in line and claiming huge fines when they start to misbehave?
The answer, apparently, is everyone.
According to a report in the NY Post, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is having a little trouble finding someone to help him run the state's Department of Financial Services after Ben Lawsky went back to the private sector this summer.
Regulating the big banks — a task that falls to the superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services — is getting a rep as one of the most thankless, unpopular and politically fraught jobs in the financial industry.
Five months after Ben Lawsky stepped down from the position, and with acting superintendent Anthony Albanese expected to leave at the end of this year, Gov. Cuomo is struggling to line up a permanent replacement to lead an office that has brought in billions to the state’s coffers, sources told The Post.
Apparently, Cuomo is a bit of an overweening Alpha when it comes to what DFS is up to, which is not too much of a surprise when you consider that he is Andrew Cuomo... and pretty much an overweening Alpha when it comes to literally EVERYTHING.
Also, there are some rumors that Lawsky's behavior at DFS got him stuck a bit in the revolving door.
There’s also the perception that Lawsky, who now runs his own firm advising companies about regulatory compliance and lectures part-time at Stanford University, had a hard time landing a job at a big law firm due to unpopularity.
“If they think you’re being unfair, they’ll definitely hold a grudge,” said one attorney in private practice who represents some banks. “Rightly or wrongly, that was the perception about Ben [Lawsky].”
Lawsky was one of Cuomo's closest aides when he became the first guy to run DFS after Cuomo created it out of the ether in 2011. He went on to pick fights with Barclays (NYSE: BCS), Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN.L), Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB) and BNP Paribas (Paris: BNP.PA) among others. Those cases brought in billions of dollars of settlement money to state coffers and made Lawsky into a bit of a celebrity.
Lawsky's now running how own regulatory consultancy startup and not working in a corner office in someone else's big building, making people wonder if the revolving door needs grease at DFS.
Rumors that Cuomo is having an HR problem at the top of DFS seems to have led to some fun trolling from banks.
The banks are now pushing back, using lobbyists to lean on the governor’s office to pick a kinder, gentler superintendent, sources said.
It's hard to believe that those "sources" aren't from the banking side considering that everyone in the know also seem certain that Cuomo wants to keep the role as a hard-charging, pugnacious gig and will likely hire a fellow prosecutor type.
But while there's an opening, why wouldn't banks propose that their lawyers be considered for the job, or at least friendlier regulatory experts? After all, trips through the revolving door are always smoother when you're familiar with both sides of the swing.