Jamie Thorsen, a bright and energetic kid who was quick at math, parlayed an opportunity in the new world of foreign exchange trading into a 30-plus-year career with Harris Bank and the Bank of Montreal. She ran a trading unit at Harris while still in her 20s and grew up along with the foreign exchange market. She was executive managing director for BMO Capital Markets and a key figure in BMO’s expansion into China, having responsibility over its capital markets operations, including forex, fixed income and derivatives in China. Thorsen announced her retirement after we spoke to her, but as you will see, she has accomplished much in the world of forex.
Futures Magazine: Jamie, you have a long and distinguished career in banking and forex; tell us how you got started.
Jamie Thorsen: I started at the Harris Bank at their management training program, which was an intake program for kids that had graduated from college. There were about 40 people in the program. Harris at the time was a commercial bank and a big part of what they did was credit. I thought I was going to lose my mind; it was very slow and very plodding, process-oriented. It was very difficult for me to keep my interest. The woman who was running the program said to me there was an area that was relatively new with about 10 people, and ‘I think you would be well suited.’ It had nothing to do with a particular skill set, it had to do with a personality type that liked action and liked movement. I interviewed and for whatever reason, I was given the opportunity, so I went into the foreign exchange room. I worked on the trading desk for two years and then I moved to a newly created sales desk and I worked on the sales desk covering clients.