As further evidence of Mercer's growing focus on Asia, the consulting firm is building a wealth-management services team in Singapore, led by Hansi Mehrotra.

She will move to the Lion City from Sydney around late June to join Desmond Lee, who joins Mercer this week as a wealth-management consultant from DBS Asset Management. There he was responsible for the management and oversight of structured funds and investment advisory to high-net-worth individuals. Mercer also plans to make further hires in Singapore.

Mehrotra retains her role as head of wealth-management services for Asia-Pacific and investment consulting head for India. Her relocation reinforces the fact that Mercer is ramping up its Asian private-wealth business, alongside its investment-consulting and investment-management units in the region.

"As Singapore has emerged as a private-banking hub, it's natural for us to have a team based there, as well as in Boston, London, Sydney and Zurich," she tells AsianInvestor, adding that London, Singapore and Zurich are particular focuses for the firm's wealth-management consulting business.

This business is effectively an extension of the investment-consulting business for institutional investors. "We are one of the biggest institutional investment consultants around," says Mehrotra, "so we felt that if we repackaged our intellectual capital, it would suit private banks especially." High-net-worth individuals tend to seek the same level of investment expertise as institutions, she explains.

And since Mercer already has much of this research and investment know-how in place, adds Mehrotra, it will not necessarily need to dramatically increase its headcount to grow the business substantially.

Mehrotra has been working in the Australian financial services industry for 15 years. She joined Mercer in October 2003 to set up the wealth-management service for Australia, which includes consulting, research, website tools and training.

Before joining Mercer, Mehrotra was an associate director at Australian research house van Eyk, where she worked for eight years in various roles. Previously, she worked as a financial planner for two years.

Lee has spent most of his career with DBS AM in roles including portfolio manager, product manager and investment analyst. As of press time, the asset manager had not commented on whether he had been or would be replaced.