Benjamin Lawsky, head of New York's Department of Financial Services, has spent the last two years scrutinizing banks of his state. Known for his aggressive style, Mr. Lawsky has fined foreign banks over accusations of money laundering and briefly barred prominent financial consultants from working in the state.

Because New York is the headquarters for most financial corporations, Mr. Lawsky's regulations often set the standard for other regulatory bodies, even those on the federal level. Some note that his forceful methods shame other regulators.

"He's setting the bar very high. And when he does something, it becomes hard for other regulators to ignore because then they look like they're being lax," says Alan Kaplinsky, head of the consumer financial services practice at Ballard Spahr.

Mr. Lawsky openly admits that he likes to “push the envelope” when it comes to how the government interacts with the financial services industry, but says that the reports of tension between regulatory bodies are exaggerated.

Related Practice

Consumer Financial Services