After weeks of speculation, New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo has formally nominated Linda Lacewell to be the next superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services.
The department handles regulation of insurance, banking, trusts, real estate finance, and capital markets activities. The department is in the middle of efforts to implement new financial products suitability standards that could affect the sale of life insurance, as well as the sale of annuities and other types of financial services products.
Lacewell is Cuomo’s chief of staff. If confirmed, she will replace outgoing Superintendent Maria Vullo, who announced in December that she would be leaving the agency at the end of January. Vullo has not decided what she’s planning to do after leaving the Cuomo administration, which she’s served in for the last three years.
Vullo has been the second person to hold the position. The first superintendent, Benjamin Lawsky, left to start his own consulting firm. Vullo said in an interview last month that she had been considering the move for some time.
The New York State Department of Financial Services
The Department of Financial Services was created in 2011. It combines the operations of the old state Banking Department and Insurance Department.
The department is one of the most powerful financial regulatory agencies in the world, because many of the world’s largest companies are either based in New York state or have subsidiaries or affiliates based in the state.
In addition to promulgating regulations related to financial services sales standards, the department has developed regulations affecting many other sectors.
The department has, for example, imposed strict cybersecurity requirements on state-regulated banks and insurers.
Under Vullo, the department mandated that the state’s health insurers provide coverage for contraceptives and abortions without imposing deductibles or other cost-sharing measures.
In some cases, the department’s enforcement activities bring in a substantial share of state revenue.
Going into the 2015 legislative session, New York state had an annual budget of about $150 billion. The Department of Financial Services brought in about $4 billion in financial institution settlement payments.
Lacewell has a bachelor’s degree from New College of Florida and a law degree from the University of Miami.
She was an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn from 1997 through 2007.
Cuomo hired Lacewell to be a special counsel in 2007, when he became New York state’s attorney general.
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In 2011, when Cuomo took over as New York state’s governor, Lacewell served as a special assistant for a year. She then served for about three years as a special counsel, and for one year as New York state’s chief risk officer. While Lacewell was the chief risk officer, she helped set up the state’s first enterprise risk management system for ethics, risk and compliance in state agencies and authorities.
She left to run Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 Foundation, a nonprofit cancer research organization in California, for a year, then returned to New York state in November 2017, to become Cuomo’s chief of staff.
Cuomo announced Lacewell’s nomination, along with several others, Friday, without commenting specifically on Lacewell.
Cuomo said those appointed were chosen to advance his agenda going into his third term as governor.
“This administration is laser focused on the advancement and enforcement of policies that improve the lives of residents in every corner of this state, from strengthening gun safety reforms and protecting our natural resources, to fostering economic opportunities that create new, 21st century jobs for New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “I am proud to work with these talented and dedicated individuals as we build on our progress and continue to move New York forward.”
The nominations must now be confirmed by the New York state Senate.
Lacewell’s nomination will likely come under the jurisdiction of the state Senate Finance, Insurance, and Banking committees. Those are the committees that held hearings on Vullo’s nomination in 2016.
Lacewell was not immediately available for an interview on Friday.
— Read 2019 Life, Health and Annuity Planner, on ThinkAdvisor.