DISCOVERING a client's needs when choosing a mutual fund has become an art in itself at Standard Chartered. Clients calling at branches may complete a 'risk profile analysis', or, alternatively, they can visit the bank's 'risk service centre' in the Landmark, where an interactive software programme helps them assess their best course of action. 'It's easy for a customer to be misled by the performance of a fund that's gone up by, say, 200 per cent over a three-year period if he's not made aware of the volatility of that fund,' said investment services manager Joseph Silva. 'We have a research department that analyses more than 800 Hong Kong-authorised funds and they are ranked in terms of volatility relative to performance,' he said. 'We ask for each one per cent of volatility how much percentage gain has that fund made over a three-year period?' Customers are then shown funds from one of four categories of risk level, according to their profile. 'It can depend on age,' Mr Silva said of the first-time investor. 'If he is 23 and still living with his family and has just been working for a couple of years, he possibly can take a risk level higher than someone in their mid-40s with a similar amount to invest.' For the upper bracket of investor - those with around US$1 million (HK$7.73 million) to place - Standard Chartered provides an 'efficient frontier analysis', where another software system analyses a number of funds and can suggest multiple permutations. 'We do not manage any of the funds that are offered,' Mr Silva said. 'We have deliberately taken this stand so as to be objective.' He said this was 'unlike many banks in Hong Kong'. Also, Standard Chartered did not charge an annual fee for holding investors' funds.