New York financial regulator Benjamin Lawsky called for more reforms of the bank consulting industry in the wake of his crackdown on Deloitte last week, saying Monday evening that his "aggressive work in this area is far from over."
He called on other regulators to rein in bank consultants by revoking their access to "confidential supervisory information," or by clawing back fees earned by "consultants that performed poorly or engaged in misconduct."
Lawsky, superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, repeatedly invoked the failed independent foreclosure reviews that highlighted the industry influence — and expensive prices — of firms including Deloitte and Promontory Financial Group.
Last week, Lawsky fired one of the first regulatory shots across the bow of that industry, by fining Deloitte Financial Advisory Services and banning it from accepting new state-chartered clients for one year. Two days later, Lawsky's agency fined Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ $250 million for violating sanctions, trumping a much smaller 2012 settlement with the federal government.
In a speech Monday, Lawsky called bank consulting a "broken system" and urged other regulators to punish consultants that fail to put enough distance between themselves and their clients.
"The independence and integrity of monitors and independent consultants is another area of vital concern" to New York, he told a conference hosted by the American Bar Association, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.
"If the monitors or consultants are not independent of the big banks that pay their fees then their work-product can hardly be deemed reliable," he added.
He suggested that regulators could use their control over consultants' access to confidential bank documents "as a lever to disgorge fees paid to consultants that performed poorly or engaged in misconduct," he said. "We as regulators can review the work of consultants and — if warranted — seek to secure a voluntary disgorgement of fees from those that failed in their duties."