Janus International, the international arm of the $150 billion Denver-based Janus Group, has hired Ilex Lam in Hong Kong as institutional sales director for the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan. This is the first time Janus has had a full-time institutional salesman.

The appointment follows on last month's hiring of Johnny Wong as sales director for the region ex-Japan, luring him from HSBC Asset Management.

Both men report to Howcy Yeung, regional director in Hong Kong, who is counting on Lam's experience to help the firm, which only arrived in Asia in 2000, to crack the region's estimated $2 trillion institutional asset pool. He will start by courting investment consultants as well as corporate and government pension fund managers.

Although some institutional sales work was handled by Joann Ma, who left earlier this year for Invesco, Lam represents a new focus, as most of Ma's efforts were in marketing and retail distribution. So far Janus has concentrated on promoting a family of 15 global funds authorized for public distribution, a mostly retail function that Wong is now continuing by broadening sales channels.

But the firm is confident its institutional suite of products and services from the United States will also appeal to prospective clients in Asia.

Lam has 16 years of regional experience in the investment industry, including nine years at Credit Suisse, where he helped develop its institutional asset management business across Asia ex-Japan, as well as expand its private banking arm, Swiss Volksbank, into Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Most recently he has been group managing director at Uni-Cyber Group, a boutique advisory business specializing in providing corporate finance and direct investment advice to investors in Greater China.