The New York State first superintendent of financial services Benjamin Lawsky said there is a need to regulate firms offering consulting services to banks in an interview with the BBC.

Lawsky told the BBC World Service Business Daily programme that there is a question of who regulates consultants.
"The answer is that no one has paid much attention to that and as regulators we all need to think more about that."

Lawsky believes that independent consultants hired to help banks with their regulatory issues often lose their independence.

"What we found was that, in the past, consultants which were hired by the banks get embedded physically at the banks and get paid by the banks," he said. "They often get very close with the institutions who they are supposed to clean up."

The Big Four are often appointed as consultants to banks and earlier this year the state of New York sanctioned Deloitte for its consulting work at Standard Chartered Bank over anti-money-laundering issues. Deloitte agreed to a one-year suspension from doing new consulting work for financial firms in the state of New York and paid a $10m fine as part of the settlement.

The case built Lawsky’s reputation of a tough regulator, an image that doesn’t seem to bother him, as he told the BBC: "We are aggressively fair."

Asked if he believed the stand he is taking in the state of New York should be applied at national and international level, he said that being at a state institution he doesn’t face the same kind of pressure he would be facing in Washington D.C. Therefore he believes he can "try new things", which ultimately can become federal or international laws.

Related links:

Benjamin Lawsky’s interview

New York’s Department of Financial Services