State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) has re-hired Lochiel Crafter in a new role as Asia-Pacific head of investments after an internal restructure designed to improve client relations and interaction.

Crafter had spent seven years with SSgA as Asia-Pacific chief investment officer (CIO) based in Singapore before leaving in 2008 to become CEO of the Australian Award Investment Alliance, based in Sydney.

His departure saw a strategic shift within SSgA that coincided with the onset of the global financial crisis. The firm dropped its regional CIOs in favour of various asset class CIOs globally.

It named Rick Lacaille as global chief investment officer in 2008, and in March the following year it appointed Mike Karpik as head of investments for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. There is no separate head of investments role in the US.

But clearly SSgA has not found the Asia-Pacific role easy to fill, having been engaged in the interview process for some time. Lacaille has been travelling to Asia-Pacific to talk broadly across asset classes, but Crafter is now a dedicated resource residing in the region.

SSgA notes that Crafter’s new role will be a mix of his former regional CIO role combined with business responsibilities that focus more on client interaction. It will include discussing product development as well as interaction with various regulators from a policy perspective.

Kelly Driscoll, SSgA’s senior managing director for Asia ex-Japan, says: “The difference is that this new role is a bit broader, with additional business responsibilities and focus. I think as we have grown in the region and we see Asia-Pacific continue to grow and develop, we want to reach out and make sure we cover our clients on the investments side.”

Crafter will be based in Sydney and will be required to travel frequently. He will oversee teams of portfolio managers, strategists and researchers in Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore.

SSgA has nearly 200 staff in Asia-Pacific, including 54 in Hong Kong and Singapore combined. It opened a representative office in Shanghai in 2009 and another in Seoul earlier this year.

The firm has eight portfolio managers based in Hong Kong focused on Asian equities, both active and passive, and three in Singapore dealing in fixed income. It has three product engineers in Asia ex-Japan.

SSgA is also a well-established provider of exchange-traded funds, with eight products and 11 listings in the Asia-Pacific region. Only yesterday it launched a Greater China fund in Hong Kong and has pledged to increase its ETF product range in the near future.

Driscoll confirms that SSgA is seeking to add at least four staff to its ETF team in Hong Kong, including replacing Sammy Yip who quit as market head in April. A spokesman at the firm says announcements can be expected soon.

“We will easily add four and we expect to grow throughout 2011 and 2012,” adds Driscoll. “We are very excited about growth prospects as well as a lot of new products.”

SSgA had $180 billion in assets under management in Asia-Pacific and about $60 billion in Asia ex-Japan as at the end of last year. It is the asset management business of State Street Corporation, which had $1.8 trillion in AUM as at June 30.