THE Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is offering investors a range of 13 funds free of front-end charges. This will mean an initial saving of between 3 and 6 per cent of the sum invested. Regent Fund Management is the only other company offering the no-load alternative but it charges performance fees. RBC's range consists of 13 funds - eight equity and five bond - covering a wide range of markets and currencies. Typically, initial fees charged by Hong Kong unit trust companies range from 3 to 5 per cent for bond funds, 5 to 6 per cent for equities and between 5 and 7 per cent for warrant funds. Annual management charges can range from 0.25 per cent for money funds to 2.25 per cent for warrants. RBC's new funds are primarily designed for its banking clients who hold deposits and are looking to diversify their exposure. But the bank is clearly hoping that other investors will be attracted by the range. Financial advisers who are paid by commission are unlikely to recommend the product as the bank will not make an up-front payment to the adviser. The minimum investment in any fund is US$10,000, with the minimum top-up set at $1,000. There is a 1.5 per cent annual charge for equities and 1.25 per cent for bonds with an annual 0.125 per cent of the net asset value as a custodial charge. Switching between the funds is free. Investors can switch by selling their existing units at the going bid price and buying at the offer price. The difference - or 'spread' - will not be more than 2 per cent. Investors will also have the choice of income units - through gross dividend payments - or accumulation units, where the income is retained. They will receive statements about their fund's performance twice a year. In addition, there is a charge of US$100 per investment each time an investment is bought or sold. The funds will be domiciled in Guernsey and have been authorised by the Securities and Futures Commission. Stephen Brobyn, a senior manager, said: 'The Asian Growth Class is probably the most volatile class as it invests primarily in the emerging markets of Asia. However, currency risk plays a major role in an investor's investment decision.' Performance is measured against the appropriate market index. For example, the performance of the Asian Growth Class is measured against the MSCI Combined Far East (ex-Japan) Index. Mr Brobyn added: 'The Global Funds is not a short-term investment. Investors are advised to invest for a period of three to five years, as historically business cycles generally last for a similar duration.' Regent imposes an 8 per cent performance fee on any increase of more than 10 per cent above the target net asset value of 110 per cent during the year. A 1 per cent redemption charge is imposed if the funds are withdrawn within two years.