HENRY Strutt, Tim Freshwater and Mark White - the new trio at the top of Jardine Fleming - are looking at the task ahead with some relish. Their mission is to restore the reputation of the fund management business of Hong Kong's oldest and best-known merchant bank, and ensure it retains its reputation as the financial powerhouse of the region. Mr Strutt and Mr Freshwater, appointed Jardine Fleming group chairman and deputy-chairman last week, admitted the group had an image problem and said they were anxious to make amends. Rather than put up a brick wall, the pair said they were prepared to talk openly about what went wrong and were keen to publicise the many regulatory and supervisory changes that have taken place to ensure a repeat of the latest scandal will never arise. An advertising campaign may soon be launched to win back retail investors' hearts and confidence, though what form this may take has yet to be decided. The thrust of investor relations work will be done on a personal level. Financial consultants, pension plan advisers and institutional clients will be invited through JF's doors at Jardine House in Central and shown step-by-step the many structural changes for compliance that have been put in place. 'Now we have to get across to the market place that [changes in compliance procedures] have happened and that JF is in good condition for the future,' Mr Strutt said. 'We will invite them in and walk them through the paper trail.' Speaking at his London home for the first time since the scandal broke, Jardine Fleming Investment Management's (JFIM) chief operating officer Mr White said, once the group restored the badly shaken confidence of its institutional clients, the funds should start flowing in. For a man who has just seen between US$50 million and $100 million of funds already 'walk out', and candidly admits about $3billion worth of funds out $21 billion under management is 'vulnerable', his is a bold prediction. 'The next 12 months will be difficult, there will be cross-currents over the next 12 months,' he said. 'But over five years I'm hoping to double funds under management.' This would give the group more than $40 billion under management. Mr White said funds doubled in 1993, as US mutual funds began to concentrate more fully on the region, and that the same bullish fundamentals underpinning that rise still existed in Asia today. 'By Asian growth standards, we have been in a consolidation phase,' he said, but on a five-year view there was still significant growth in the market. He said aside from the interest seen from the US and Europe, there were increasing numbers of Asians who were buying mutual funds. While the group has been actively trying to assuage the concerns of its existing institutional clients, Japanese investors have already been committing funds to JFIM. The group expects to gain up to $1 billion of extra funds under management from Japan alone, and any outflows from nervous clients concerned about the vast regulatory breaches uncovered at the company are now believed to be minimal. Mr Freshwater said rather than being scared off, retail investors should be heartened by the fact JF had now got its act together. 'They should be saying to themselves 'JF must looking to ensure its funds now perform well and therefore they should be a good place to put our money'.' To cater for the expected influx, Mr Freshwater said the group was out recruiting: not to replace existing fund managers whom he said were top class, but to add to their ranks. Mr White is also aware there is certainly no room for complacency, and this in part lies behind the significant structural changes announced by the bank. By devising a European style supervisory board, the role of which is to monitor and carry out regular checks on the business but which will carry no executive responsibility, JFIM hopes it can win back the confidence of its clients. It has also spent about $5 million implementing a state-of-the-art compliance system, comprising electronic monitoring of fund management trades and a central dealing desk. While this should prove the group was actively making amends for its costly errors of the past, Mr White argued it was also lifting the burden from fund managers, who had traditionally found themselves saddled with compliance functions. He hoped he could devise an environment at JFIM where fund managers' prime concerns were with investment strategy, stock selection and asset allocation, and less with back-office type functions. 'The management of a business should be sufficiently good, and provide fund managers with clear guidelines, strong compliance departments and strong electronic systems, to deploy skills with confidence and in a compliant fashion,' he said.