DARCIE J. LAMOND Head of risk insurance unit First Chicago Corp.

Darcie J. Lamond has a degree in political economics, but likes to think of herself as a financial engineer.

Ms. Lamond, 36, is head of the risk insurance unit at First Chicago Corp., where she has been cranking out solid profits since 1984.

The banker says she thrives on the challenges presented by continuous gyrations in currency and interest rate markets. But her approach to success involves customer service as much as financial finesse.

Solving customer problems is the key to product sales, and "innovation is the key to solving new problems," Ms. Lamond says. "That's what gets me up in the morning."

Ms. Lamond's career has grown in tandem with the rapid growth of the swaps markets. She joined BankAmerica Corp. as a research assistant in 1977, quickly assumed additional duties in risk management, and in 1982 became an associate director in its London office. Two years, later she hopped over to First Chicago's London branch as a swaps specialist.

Last summer she moved stateside, accepting a promotion to senior vice president and head of risk management.

Born in Winnipeg, Canada, and raised in Stockton, Calif., Ms. Lamond received her undergraduate economics degree from the University of California.

Drawing on her experience abroad, she warns that overseas competitors are poised to expand in the United States. She said they may take advantage of the constrictive regulations and loan problems burdening domestic companies.

Mergers may not be the answer for U.S. banks, she says, since they distract management's attention from service. Says she, "Unless you are focusing on the customers, you will miss the whole party."

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