Paul Smith, Bank of Bermuda's head of global fund services for Asia says that Murphy, who started yesterday (Monday), will have two roles. One is to continue efforts to attract Asia-based hedge fund clients for Bermuda's record keeping and registrar services. The other, perhaps more interesting role, is to help put the bank at the centre of the Asian hedge fund universe.

Smith says this universe today is miniscule. Bank of Bermuda has an active business in North America and Europe, and wants to develop it in Asia as well. "We foresee that one day the Asian hedge fund market will be huge and we want to get in early," he states.

The idea is not so much to make money by offering services to hedge funds themselves, but to act as a facilitator to profile the industry as much as possible to clients in the US and Europe. For example, Bermuda has just completed a survey of 97 regionally based hedge funds. It hopes to put this information to use for clients outside the region. "If an fund of funds manager decides to look for an Asian hedge fund, we want to be their first port of call," Smith says. "The problem for Asian companies is that they're far away from the moneymen in the US and Europe. Clients in the West have no idea who's who in Asia."

Why? "Because if our hedge fund managers grow, we benefit," Smith concludes - some bank services charge by basis point of asset size.