Money Week has always wondered exactly which type of wealthy client ABN Amro hopes to target with its van Gogh preferred banking services. Vincent van Gogh, of course, was an enormously talented artist, the creator of rich, felicitous waves of organic colours and shapes, best viewed in his magnificent Sunflowers series of oil paintings. Most also realise that van Gogh was stark raving mad, a man who, in an exquisitely idiosyncratic psycho-epileptic fit, sliced off his earlobe, wrapped it in fine muslin, calmly strolled over to a local brothel and presented the grisly package to his favourite working girl. During his subsequent sojourn in a small French sanatorium, he produced one of his most astounding paintings - Starry Night (below), a brilliant, tumultuous swirl of colour that is, in the words of Money Week's art history professor, a 'beautiful, benign Armageddon in a sky of despair'. So, is ABN Amro appealing to that rarified group of rich, eccentric clients that actually identify with the defective Dutch genius? Or is it really promising financial advice that is impetuous and avant-garde? Not exactly, says ABN Amro's Vivian Tan, a marketing manager for the van Gogh service. 'Van Gogh was quintessentially Dutch, as we are. He was innovative and creative, just as we are with our services. And we both have a long history - ABN Amro is 175 years old.' Ms Tan describes the van Gogh service, reserved for clients willing to pony up deposits of $1 million or more, as a 'mini-private banking' service. With a manager to client ratio of just 1:200, compared with 1:500 at similar services offered by larger rivals like Citibank, van Gogh probably does offer the most intimate banking services available outside the formal private banking segment. Changing perceptions While the popular perception of hedge trading in Singapore has been tainted, perhaps indelibly, by the Nick Leeson and China Aviation Oil scandals, the city in practice offers one of the most stable and sophisticated hedge-fund markets in the world. To help finance professionals navigate the terrain, the Singapore chapter of the Alternative Investment Management Association and HSBC's Alternative Fund Services have published a guide to hedge funds in the city state. Penned by some of Singapore's most experienced portfolio managers, the Hedge Fund Investors Handbook is aimed at both retail advisers and institutional investors, offering a step-by-step introduction to the market. The text covers the various types of hedge funds available, and the risk and return characteristics of each. 'Professional investors and advisers in Singapore have a good level of theoretical understanding of hedge funds, but few have in-depth operational experience of using these vehicles,' explained Peter Douglas, a council member for the association in Singapore. The handbook, sponsored by HSBC, is available online at www.aima.org .