Sanwa Bank California is planning to join the ranks of banks that offer their own mutual funds.

The Los Angeles-based bank, a unit of Japan's Sanwa Bank Ltd., has registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to begin offering its own fund family this fall.

The still-unnamed fund complex would include two money market portfolios, an equity fund, a global asset allocation fund, and a bond fund. They are to be sold on a no-load basis, meaning they would carry no up-front sales charge.

Bisys Fund Services, Columbus, Ohio, will act as fund administrator and distributor.

Sanwa, California's fourth-largest bank, is something of a latecomer to the mutual fund party. The number of new bank-managed fund families reached its peak in 1992, when a record 23 banks rolled out new fund families.

Since then, the number of newcomers has slowed to a trickle, with only three banks joining the fray in 1996. Three more have so far launched new fund families this year, according to Lipper Analytical Services, Summit, N.J.

"Sanwa Bank California may be a new adviser to SEC registered funds in the U.S., but Sanwa is a dominant force in the financial services arena globally," said Richard Weiss, senior vice president and chief investment officer.

With the backing and resources of one of the world's largest banks- Osaka-based Sanwa Bank Ltd. is the world's six-largest bank with more than $420 billion of assets-Mr. Weiss said he is confident the funds will be successful.

Mr. Weiss declined to elaborate, because the company is in the quiet period that follows SEC filings.

The bank should do well if it differentiates itself with product offerings customers can not easily get elsewhere, said Les Dinkin, managing director at NBW Consulting, Westport, Conn. "Their logic probably is, if they can get just a small slice of the growing market, they can have a profitable business," Mr. Dinkin said.

Sanwa Bank California, which has $8 billion of assets, manages about $10 billion of assets.

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