SG Private Banking is establishing teams to invest in real estate products for clients looking for either direct exposure or for funds.

Keiichi Hirano, Singapore-based head of real estate solutions, says the bank is moving to fill a gap in its offering to high-net-worth clients. "Real estate makes up 15-25% of high-net-worth assets," he explains. "Without this offering, we only touch 75% of the client's portfolio."

Although plans for a real estate team predate the immediate credit crisis, the fallout should give SG an opportunity to hire experienced people. Hirano says he is seeing "a lot of CVs" and suggests other private banks are trimming their real estate groups, although he declined to specify which firms are doing so.

Hirano will also be responsible for developing and promoting the private bank's real estate offering. The platform will service various parts of the private bank, including its relationship managers, and give them additional products or ideas to pitch to clients.

"We will offer investors the opportunity to invest cross-border into any country, any type of property, listed and unlisted," Hirano says. This could include listed securities, private placements, and funds. The platform will source products from both internal and third-party managers.

This means building a team of specialists, including securitisation, credit, investment sourcing and structuring. The firm is not rushing to add people, so Hirano is not certain how large or how quickly the team will grow, but he'd like to have two or three specialists in Asia and three or four in Europe by the end of 2009.

Hirano has been with SG for 11 years. He joined in Tokyo in 1998 after working at Yamaichi Securities in Tokyo and Europe, and a stint at Capital Advisors, an economic research boutique for hedge funds. He served initially as SG Private Banking's Japan marketing head before moving to Singapore in 2005 as global marketing manager for the firm's Japanese clients.