After nearly three years of research and development, PNC Wealth Management has rolled out a new tool that allows clients and advisors to watch and manage investments online. Called PNC Wealth Insight, it updates holdings daily, and aggregates all of a client's portfolios in one place.

The Pittsburgh-based bank describes the tool as a "virtual dashboard" that displays financial information in a clear, easy-to-understand way. Clients and advisors can get a broad overview of their entire portfolios in seconds, or drill down, analyzing their holdings in a variety of ways.

It allows clients a complete view of their total net worth by aggregating all their investments with PNC as well as other firms, plus personal property and real estate. It also offers daily updates automatically.

PNC hopes that it will help communication between advisors and clients.

"When the advisor is talking to the client and they want to provide examples of what they have in mind, or reasons why they'd like to advise the client to take a certain action, Wealth Insight makes that very clear between the client and the advisor," said Tom Kunz, director of Payments and e-Business for PNC Financial Services Group, in the company's press material.

It is organized in seven tabs, including Net Worth, which is the client's balance sheet, with a full view of assets and liabilities at PNC. This allows the client to aggregate in other investments with other firms and property. My Folio allows the client to group accounts in a variety of ways, by simply dragging and dropping. The Income tab shows cash in and out each month. It allows the client to compare current income with the past - by months or years - and estimate income for future months or years. The Performance tab shows returns in dollar value or percentage gain or loss, net of fees, across several time frames, including daily. Gains and losses can be compared to a benchmark of the client's choosing. The Brief tab gives a high-level overview of the portfolio, while Allocation compares the client's actual situation with a target allocation. The Resources tab acts as a personalized homepage, similar to those offered by Google and Yahoo, with market news, e-mail access to the client's advisors, blogs from PNC's experts and an online community.

The quick access to the advisory team, as well as blogs from experts struck a chord with Pamela DeBolt, senior research analyst with Cerulli Associates.

"A thing we hear all the time on both the investor and the advisor side is the desire for education," she said. "I really thought the Resources tab was a great addition to this particular tool because it provided some sort of education on market news and blogs from market experts." DeBolt also liked the ability to customize the screens. "Each client may have a different way to see information," she said.

The timing of the tool is apt. It fits well with the bank's 2010-2011 Wealth & Values Survey, which found 74% of wealthy clients saying they want greater transparency from financial institutions; 77% said information and technology integration has helped them improve how they manage their investments.

The tool was developed out of conversations with high-net-worth clients about how they want to view their holdings.

Clients in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Baltimore used it on a trial basis and their feedback led to many of the features.

PNC Wealth Insight can be accessed on mobile products like smart phones and tablets now. App versions for iPhone and Android will be available next year.

This capability is in line with what DeBolt said she has seen in recent surveys her group has conducted. She noted that many asset managers had reined in their forays into bolstering their websites amidst the financial crisis of a few years ago. But now they are ramping back up. "A focus on technology is very much part of their business plans," she said.

So look for more whiz-bang from the industry at an app store near you.

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