SEI Investments, known in Asia as a multi-manager outsourcing platform, is now beginning to market a service it is better known for in the United States: processing for private banks.

The Philadelphia-based firm got its start as an outsourcing service for private banks in the US and only later expanded into multi-manager solutions for institutional investors, says William Cassidy, managing director of the private banking and distribution group.

Cassidy has just relocated from San Francisco to Hong Kong to spearhead the effort. Virginia Devereux, a Hong Kong native who has been supporting the firmÆs institutional effort in Asia, will now focus full time on marketing the private-banking unit with Cassidy.

The firm is now in the process of introducing an international version of its private-bank processing platform in the United Kingdom, and this will be able to service clients in Asia as well. At some point SEI may introduce an additional IT platform in Asia for local time-zone service, but only once the business has reached a certain size.

ôThe service is similar to the outsourcing we offer to institutional investors,ö Cassidy says. ôWe provide processing tools, a back office and investment management for global wealth managers. Some private banks outsource just their business services or their asset management component to us, or use us to supplement their internal set of tools...Private banks create alpha in their relationships. We have no contact with their clients and could never replicate that.ö

SEI tailors investment management for private banks so they are not getting a typical service for, say, a pension fund. For example, institutional investors have set benchmarks, where as private clients tend toward absolute returns or other goals.

In Asia it already provides services to HSBC, as a multi-manager to its private banking arm, Republic. Cassidy says the firm has signed another private bank with operations in Singapore and Hong Kong, but cannot now disclose the name.

SEI lacks traditional relationships with private banks outside of the United States, so it has to build a local business from scratch. It will target banks where wealth management is a core part of their growth, and which have shown a willingness to outsource.