The Department of Financial Services supervises and regulates the activities of nearly 1,800 insurance companies with asset of $5.5 trillion and more than 1,400 banking and other financial institutions with assets totaling more than& $2.9 trillion, as of Dec. 31, 2020. The institutions regulated by the Department include 132 life insurance companies, 864 property/casualty insurance companies, 94 health insurers and managed care organizations, more than 388,000 individual insurance licensees, 162 state-chartered banks, 74 foreign branches,10 foreign agencies, 17 credit unions, 20 credit rating agencies, 382 financial services companies, and more than 9,399 mortgage loan originators and servicers.
Adrienne A. Harris was nominated to lead the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) by Governor Kathy Hochul in August, 2021.
Acting Superintendent Harris began her career as an Associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York City representing a number of U.S. and non-U.S. based corporations in various forms of litigation and regulatory matters, before accepting a position at the United States Department of the Treasury under President Obama.
While at the Treasury Department, Acting Superintendent Harris served as a Senior Advisor to both Acting Deputy Secretary and Under Secretary for Domestic Finance Mary Miller, and Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin. Her work ranged from financial reform efforts to identifying solutions to the student loan crisis, analyzing the nexus between foreign investment and national security, and working to promote financial inclusion and health in communities throughout the country.
Following her time at the Treasury Department, Acting Superintendent Harris joined The White House, where she was appointed as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, as part of the National Economic Council. In this role, Ms. Harris managed the financial services portfolio, which included developing and executing strategies for financial reform and the implementation of Dodd-Frank, consumer protections for the American public, cybersecurity and housing finance reform priorities.
After leaving the White House in January 2017, Acting Superintendent Harris went on to serve as General Counsel and Chief Business Officer at States Title, Inc. (now DOMA), which provides a more simple and affordable closing experience for homebuyers.
Prior to being nominated, she also served as a Professor and as Faculty Co-Director at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy's Center on Finance, Law and Policy at the University of Michigan, as well as a Senior Advisor at the Brunswick Group in Washington, D.C.
To reform the regulation of financial services in New York to keep pace with the rapid and dynamic evolution of these industries, to guard against financial crises and to protect consumers and markets from fraud.
The Superintendent, in order to better supervise financial products and services, including those subject to the provisions of the Insurance Law and the Banking Law may take any actions necessary to:
- foster the growth of the financial industry in New York and spur state economic development through judicious regulation and vigilant supervision;
- ensure the continued solvency, safety, soundness and prudent conduct of the providers of financial products and services;
- ensure fair, timely and equitable fulfillment of the financial obligations of such providers;
- protect users of financial products and services from financially impaired or insolvent providers of such services;
- encourage high standards of honesty, transparency, fair business practices and public responsibility;
- eliminate financial fraud, other criminal abuse and unethical conduct in the industry; and
- educate and protect users of financial products and services and ensure that users are provided with timely and understandable information to make responsible decisions about financial products and services.
On October 3, 2011 the New York State Banking Department and the New York State Insurance Department were abolished and the functions and authority of both former agencies transferred to the New York State Department of Financial Services.
The legislation that created the Department of Financial Services, known as the Financial Services Law, was introduced as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2011 budget.
The Governor's purpose in consolidating these two agencies and creating the Department of Financial Services or DFS is to modernize regulation by allowing the agency to oversee a broader array of financial products and services, rather than the previous system of limiting regulation to services provided by only certain types of institutions.
The New York State Banking Department
In 1791, the New York State legislature authorized a charter for the first state bank, the Bank of New York.
A law in 1829 set up a Bank Fund later renamed the Safety Fund, to guarantee the payment of debts of insolvent state banks. All State-chartered banks were required to make an annual contribution to this fund, which was managed by the State treasurer. That same law provided for the appointment of three bank commissioners to examine the financial status of these banks and to report annually to the legislature. The Banking Law of 1838 required banks file certificates of incorporation with the Secretary of State and to report annually to the State Comptroller. In 1843, the Comptroller was authorized to examine a bank only when there was reason to suspect an incorrect report had been submitted or was in an unsafe and unsound condition to continue business.
The Banking Department was created by the New York state legislature on April 15, 1851. Until it was abolished in 2011, the New York State Banking Department was the oldest bank regulatory agency in the nation.
The New York State Insurance Department
Until 1849, insurance companies doing business in New York State were chartered by special acts of the Legislature. A law was passed that year requiring prospective insurance companies to file incorporation papers with the Secretary of State. The law also vested regulatory power over insurance companies with the State Comptroller, who was authorized to require the companies to submit annual financial statements and to deny a company the right to operate if capital securities and investments did not remain secure.
The Insurance Department was created in 1859 by the New York State Legislature and assumed the functions of the Comptroller and Secretary of State relating to insurance. The Department began operations in 1860.