Search Alternative Investment Limited (Sail Advisors) has hired Calvin Ho as global head of business development to expand its business of managing funds of hedge funds. Ho will lead an expanding team of seven and report to Eliza Lau, chief executive officer in Hong Kong.

A chartered financial analyst and graduate of National University of Singapore, Ho joins from Morgan Stanley Capital International (now known as MSCI Barra), where he had worked for seven years with various postings including Singapore, New York, Geneva and Hong Kong.

In Singapore, he was involved in setting up MSCIÆs Southeast Asia team. He moved on to New York to lead research efforts in US and Latin American equities. His role in Hong Kong was to run MSCIÆs business development among state investment agencies. He has also run money as a senior portfolio manager at the former Citigroup Asset Management (since sold to Legg Mason).

While he will continue to service core relationships in Europe and Asia Pacific, Ho will also expand Sail AdvisorÆs presence in the United States and Middle East.

He says Asian investors are catching up with their European counterparts by expanding their portfolios to include alternative assets. Newcomers to alternative investments can benefit from funds of funds for their diversification, track record and research capability, as well as access to closed investment strategies, he argues.

Ho expects the recent blowups among hedge funds in the United States and Europe, hurt by subprime exposures or liquidity problems, makes funds of funds more attractive. Funds of funds in turn are more keen on hedge funds with established strategies and clear structures.

ôInnovation will continue. But the key here is to keep the product simple,ö Ho says. ôA complicated structure is going to be more difficult to explain, and risks attached to these products will be a lot higher.ö

A major source of potential business in Asia is sovereign wealth funds, for which returns are more important than, say, for central banks. Pension funds are also under pressure to address issues of under-funding and will need to diversify more into alternative asset classes, Ho says.

With $2.3 billion under management, Sail Advisors is one of AsiaÆs longest standing and largest managers of funds of funds. Ho says his team will continue to expand by hiring more specialized individuals who understand investment processes and institutional investorsÆ mindsets, and are able to provide sensible solutions.