UNITED STATES - Mercer Investment Consulting is expanding its real estate consulting operation to pension fund clients around the world.

It recently hired the first member of staff dedicated to real estate to reside within the newly-opened Hong Kong branch office, and has now added a new person to its current operation in Sidney, Australia while searching for additional real estate specialists to boost existing operations in Europe and the United States.

"Mercer has seen more of its pension fund clients perusing real estate investment opportunities on a global stage," said Allison Yager, principal and lead of the US real estate operation at Mercer.

"We think these clients will be better served by having people located in the regions where they will be investing. This will give them a better understanding as to what is the best strategy to take on," she added.

The company has hired Fred Tang as a senior real estate researcher at Mercer's Hong Kong office. Tang is expected to zero in on research and consulting assignments for pension fund clients with active Asian real estate requirements.

Tang was a member of the investment research team for two years at BlackRock Realty and conducted macro and capital markets analysis of US and Asia-Pacific markets for investment committees as well as investment evaluations and due diligence for clients.

John Willis has also joined as a senior real estate researcher in Australia, to focus on unlisted property research and consulting assignments.

Wills has been involved in the property industry for the past 17 years but his most recent position was in a consulting role as a senior manager with Ernst and Young at the firm's corporate real estate service.

Mercer hopes to hire additional people for its US and European over the next two months.