Hong Kong-based fund of hedge funds firm Sail Advisors is ramping up its international client coverage with the appointment of Sjef Pieters, Lyxor's former head of business development for Benelux.

The plan is for him to strengthen Sail's marketing efforts in Europe and to build strategic client relationships with a focus on the Benelux region.

He will work out of Sail's recently opened London office and report to Gunther Jost, the Hong Kong-based head of sales and marketing. Sail is also looking to strengthen its marketing and client relationship bench in its New York office where it already has an established team of research analysts.

The hire of Pieters is consistent with this goal of improving client relationships. Listening to what clients want led to the launch of the Sail Asia Equity Alpha Fund in August, a portfolio that invests in long/short equity managers in the Asia-Pacific region. Sail says more products are in the pipeline.

Sail says its performance through the year was ahead of its expectations, thanks largely to a focus on managers with low market exposures. A spokesperson told AsianInvestor that, particularly in this type of whipsaw market environment, the firm believes it must focus on ‘idiosyncratic alpha with low or no beta’.   

Also it believes macro managers with the right types of bearish bets are a valuable addition to portfolio construction as they reduce exposure and were able to benefit in months including August and September. Sail has also deployed a tactical hedging programme which aided it through recent volatility.

The firm believes its Asian funds of hedge funds have done well this year, notably in September  considering that the MSCI AP Index was down -9.5%. The firm provided AsianInvestor with the following performance statistics in support of that:

Sail Asia-Pacific Fund (multi-strategy fund):
Sep: -2.62%
YTD 2011: -1.69%

Sail Asia Equity Alpha Fund (fund with long/short equity focus, launched on Aug 1, 2011):
Aug: -0.77%
Sep: -3.58%