LAKEVILLE, Conn. (HedgeWorld.com)–Ibbotson Associates Advisory launched a hedge fund of funds program that offers services such as manager selection and due diligence, style analysis, risk management and customized portfolio construction.

The service is designed for financial intermediaries, including asset managers, insurance companies, registered investment advisers, brokers and private banks.

Industry veteran Ezra Zask joined Ibbotson as director of the hedge fund advisory group. Mr. Zask has developed and worked with various hedge fund businesses. He was adviser to Standard & Poor’s hedge fund index Previous HedgeWorld Story and involved in manager selection and due diligence for the Zurich Financial hedge fund index program Previous HedgeWorld Story.

Regarding the new Ibbotson venture, “The program will develop portfolios for other institutions and eventually have its own fund of funds,” Mr. Zask explained. It already has a large mandate from a private bank.

In the past couple of years, Ibbotson Associates has been increasingly approached about incorporating hedge funds into a traditional portfolio, Mr. Zask added. That is how the firm got the idea of forming this group. “There was enough interest from clients so that it was worth setting up this new enterprise,” he said.

Ibbotson has a strong focus on research and advising about asset allocation, broadly defined and a large distribution network. “The company has conducted extensive research on the optimal design and implementation of asset allocation policies using traditional and alternative assets,” said Michael Henkel, president of Ibbotson Associates, in a statement. “These new hedge fund advisory services are a natural extension of this work.”

Yale University professor Roger Ibbotson, who founded the company in 1977, is no stranger to hedge funds. He helped launch a fund called Zebra Capital Management last year, with partners Emmett Harty and Zhiwu Chen .

CKurdas@HedgeWorld.com