In a move that points to a trend among wealth management firms looking to boost fund sales, HSBC Private Bank has hired Alexander Kwan in a newly created role as senior director of funds selection.

Kwan joined in early January from Société Générale Private Banking in Singapore, where he was a director of funds selection. He will head the existing team, comprising Su Mien Seng and George Lam. Kwan has also worked for Deutsche Bank and ABN Amro Private Banking.

SG Private Banking has relocated Katie Brock from SG Hambros, the private bank’s UK entity, to replace Kwan.

HSBC did not respond to requests for comment by press time, while SG declined to comment.

Private banks have not traditionally been big distributors of mutual funds in Asia. These products account for less than 5% of sales for many wealth managers, according to research firm Cerulli Associates in Singapore.

“It makes sense for private banks to package more funds into their product portfolio,” says Ken Yap, Asia-Pacific director at Cerulli. “Some wealth managers appear to favour proprietary products over those sourced from third parties, which has given rise to a vicious cycle, with a poorer selection of funds leading to lower client demand.”

Another potential reason for low demand for mutual funds, suggest asset managers, is that many private-wealth clients do not want to pay the typical 75-basis-point fee charged on such products.

There also remains the fact that Asian clients tend to be relatively short-term-trading-orientated compared to their peers in, say, Europe or the US, often using private banks as glorified stockbrokers.