PNC Retirement Directions – Full Review for 2018

Planning for retirement and managing your retirement plans can often be an opaque process. PNC Retirement Directions is one of those services designed to help employees manage the retirement accounts sponsored by their employer, though the service also offers a number of other helpful retirement tools. In this article, we will offer a detailed account of this tool, including the benefits it brings and the risks involved, as well as some practical examples. Our review is primarily aimed at readers who are looking to retire by the age of 37, focusing on how they can use the tools offered by PNC Retirement Directions to do just that.

What Is PNC Retirement Directions and How They Can Help You with Your Retirement Plan?

PNC Retirement Directions is a platform that provides increased transparency and control for both employers and employees when it comes to employer-backed retirement plans. As such, it is only useful for those who have an employer-sponsored retirement plan from a company that uses PNC to administer it. Its primary role is to make managing those plans easier for both the employer and the employee.

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The employer benefits from being able to outsource most of the work of actually managing the plan to PNC, while the employee can access the plan and make investment decisions without having to go through the company’s human resources department. Additionally, they offer a full spectrum of tools and advice, from retirement calculators and roadmaps to video tutorials covering various financial and investment concepts.

These features make it a great platform for a retirement plan for those who have little previous knowledge about investment or finance. Much of the information is delivered in interactive videos and colorful charts, making it easy to see how you could go about meeting your retirement goals, though experienced investors may find the information to be below their level of expertise.

How It Works

As befits a system that is designed to streamline and simplify retirement investing, PNC Retirement Directions is relatively straightforward to use. The bulk of the work falls onto the employer contracting with PNC, who needs to provide them with the necessary information. As an employee who has a retirement plan through PNC, you just need to create an account on their webpage and sign in as a participant.

Once you’ve done so, you can access all of the features that PNC offers either through the desktop version available through the website or using the PNC mobile app. Using their version, you can simply follow the links from the main page to access the retirement and finance advance columns and videos, as well as the various calculators available. Here you can also see a variety of other useful information, such as the current market status and the economic and investment outlook for both the short-term and the long-term put together by the PNC finance team.

Related: Early Retirement Health Insurance Options

The PNC retirement interface also makes it easy to access your overall fund management tools. You can adjust the balance of your investment portfolio here, with helpful feedback about how different configurations could affect your risk and your returns. You can also arrange to get in touch with an advisor to arrange to roll over the plan or set up a distribution plan if you change jobs or want to move to a different retirement plan.

This transparency and ease of use is the strongest advantage that the PNC retirement platform offers investors. You have a great degree of control over your retirement investments while having a pretty solid library of financial advice to draw on, which is good for people who want to be more hands-on about their retirement plans.

Tools and Features

PNC Retirement Directions offers a number of different tools, calculators and knowledge bases for you to make use of in planning your retirement. They can help you visualize your progress towards your retirement goals as well as give you a good sense of what it will take to get there.

  • Retirement Calculator
    The retirement calculator that PNC offers is a fairly standard feature for most retirement plan providers. You just plug in your initial investment, monthly contribution, expected return on investment and retirement age, and it will tell you what kind of money you can expect to have when you retire. An interesting feature is that PNC’s calculator can actually pull the data from your account if you are signed it, showing you how much your current investment and contribution can get you based on the current growth projections.
  • SmartPlan
    The PNC SmartPlan is designed around making managing your retirement plan as easy as possible. What it does is pairs up the different features that allow you to change the plan, such as altering your contribution or fund allocation, and matches them with videos on the impact that that action will have on your investment. That allows you to not only learn how to use the PNC app to tailor your retirement investments to your needs, but also see how those changes will affect the overall trajectory of your retirement investment. For people who are new to retirement planning or investing in general, this can make a lot of difficult concepts very easy to grasp and understand.
  • PNC Retirement Roadmap
    The Roadmap is an interesting tool offered by PNC. It is similar in function to the retirement calculator, but it allows you to play with the real data based on your account and shows you a side-by-side comparison of how those changes will affect your retirement account both now and in the future. You can increase or decrease retirement plan contributions, change retirement age or even alter the balance of your retirement portfolio and get immediate feedback on how it will affect your retirement goals. For people who are looking to retire early, this is a great tool, as you can easily see what kind of changes you need to make to your current plan to get to where you want to be going.
  • Education Center
    The Education Center is a collection of all of the PNC retirement advice in one place. This includes both introductory videos to various finance concepts as well as blog posts and video messages from PNC’s finance staff focused on retirement issues. Some of those entries can be fairly specialized, such as advice on retirement planning for military families or how sending children to college can affect your retirement plans. Others are more generic, including advice on how to meet your savings targets or check if you are still on track for your planned retirement. Broadly, the advice can be sorted into that focused on people early in their retirement process, people with established retirement portfolios and people who are about to retire. A lot of it is practical and useful advice, though much of it is tailored towards investment neophytes, so experienced investors may not get as much use out of it.

PNC Retirement Directions App

PNC stands out from other employer-sponsored plan platforms because it provides very similar functionality on its mobile app as it does on the desktop version. Useful features like the Retirement Roadmap or SmartPlan that already make PNC stand out from the competition are also available on the mobile version of the app. The mobile PNC app also features the same clear charts with bright colors, making it very usable and readable. In terms of functionality and design, it is definitely above average.

Download Pages: The PNC Retirement Directions application is available in the Google Play Store and iTunes store.

However, PNC has had some technical issues with the application. Many customer reviews relate stories of being unable to log in or problems connecting to the application. However, PNC has released a number of updates to their systems recently that should hopefully take care of that problem.

Benefits of Using PNC Retirement Directions

PNC’s retirement plan platform confers a number of benefits on its users. Its biggest advantage is how simple their application design makes it to manage your retirement plan. The graphical interface gives you a lot of information in an easily readable format and changes can be made with a few clicks of the mouse.

The same principles apply to using the mobile app, which makes PNC even more convenient and easy. Similarly, beginners in the world of finance and investing will appreciate the many different articles and videos that PNC provides about those topics. It only takes a few hours to get a good grasp on all the necessary financial concepts using their knowledge base.

This, combined with how easy the platform is to use, makes PNC a strong choice for the less technically or financially savvy retirement investors who don’t want to spend a lot of time dealing with a more opaque or less user-friendly system.

What Are the Risks?

As with all retirement fund management platforms, the risks associated with it depend on the kind of funds that you are looking to invest in. PNC offers a fairly decent variety of funds, from relatively safe index or blue-chip funds to more volatile small-cap or foreign exchange offerings. The software makes it easy to visualize how much risk your retirement portfolio carries and you can easily tweak your portfolio balance to match your own risk tolerance.

The biggest risk in choosing PNC as your provider lies with their technology. While it is definitely ahead of many other retirement management solutions, the technology is clearly not as mature or robust as it should be for a financial institution. The large volume of complaints about the reliability of the mobile app suggests that relying solely on it in order to manage your retirement portfolio could be a significant risk if it experiences technical issues at a critical time. However, the desktop version of the application is reportedly more stable, keeping this risk a rather low one.


Since one of the advantages of the PNC platform is that you are in control of your own retirement plan to a large degree, the actual results that you experience can vary a lot depending on both your and your employer’s contribution to the retirement plan as well as the kinds of funds that you use in your retirement portfolio. Obviously, riskier investments, a larger contribution, and more aggressive employer matching will produce better results.

An example of the overall kind of performance that PNC funds can achieve could be seen in some online reviews. The sample account used there saw an approximately 10% return on a low-risk investment using $1343 vested at 2%.

In general, PNC’s managed funds tend to do fairly well: both their foreign and domestic large growth funds overperformed their category by around 2%, though their small-cap fund performed rather poorly compared to benchmarks.

Useful Info

Retirement Directions PNC Login Instructions

Logging into your PNC account is relatively straightforward. Simply go to the main webpage and click on the Participant Login button in the upper left-hand corner. This will take you to a page that will prompt you to enter your username, and then your password. You may also have to answer some security questions. Once that is done, you will be taken directly to the main page of the PNC app.

PNC Retirement Directions Contact Details

Phone: 1.800.374.4631

Bottom Line

If you are a new retirement investor or already have an employer retirement plan thorough PNC Retirement Directions, then you will appreciate the easy user interface, the intuitive controls and the thorough information of introductory finance knowledge that PNC provides. However, if you are an experienced investor that already knows how much he or she needs to invest to meet the retirement goals, then PNC’s colorful presentation will offer little that other funds can’t. Do you have a retirement plan with PNC? Tell us if you agree with our assessment and let us know what your experience was like!

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