Seizing upon an opportunity to grow its financial services business, SAS is launching a unit focused on capital markets.

The world’s largest privately held software firm has already hired a team of new sales people and reassigned four other people internally to man its SAS Capital Markets U.S. Practice. And the executive named to lead it says helping firms deal with the mortgage meltdown that has shaken U.S. banks while hammering real estate markets is why SAS put together the new team.

“In the subprime crisis we saw a significant requirement for capital markets companies to instill an enterprise risk discipline into their organizations,” said Paul Devlin, a six-year SAS veteran who is leading the Capital Markets unit.

“This will consist not only of developing an enterprise risk strategy, but also an analytical based architecture that allows capital markets companies to ask questions today, that yesterday they did not know they needed to ask,” he added.

“SAS also believe that more compliance and regulation would be forthcoming in this industry and this requires levels of transparency that has not easily been achievable in the past. SAS has an enviable record across the globe of enabling regulation and compliance within banking and other financial services and we now want to enable the capital markets industry through this expertise.

Devlin is no stranger to capital markets. He has 20 years of experience in sales and consulting, working with firms in the U.S. as well as the United Kingdom. His previous position at SAS was U.K. Head of Banking and Financial Services.

SAS has put together a sales team of five new hires and reassigned two internal sales people, Devlin added. Two administrative people also were assigned to the group.

The team will put heavy emphasis on risk management, utilizing SAS analytics to help clients better identify credit risk, settlement risk, and capital management.

“This practice formation reflects the success SAS has seen within the capital markets industry and how SAS strives to address the specific business needs of its customers,” Devlin said in a statement. “In the past year, the capital markets industry has realized the importance of implementing a more robust risk discipline across the enterprise to minimize exposure and maximize capital efficiencies. In addition, upcoming legislation will mandate transparency in the capital markets space, which as we know, has traditionally been difficult to achieve in this industry.”

Current SAS capital markets customers include The Dreyfus Corp., RBC Dominion Securities and Millennium Bank.

Industry analysts such as Gartner and Chartis Research have recently praised SAS for its financial services risk management solutions.