PNC Investments Brokerage Accounts FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

About Your Account

Tell me more about PNC Investments LLC.

PNC Investments LLC is a broker-dealer subsidiary of PNC Bank, National Association. PNC Investments provides a variety of investment products and services, including equities, fixed income investments, mutual funds and annuities, and account types to meet different needs, preferences and goals. PNC Investments' representatives are available to provide guidance and help customers achieve their financial objectives; other customers may prefer to make their own investments through an online brokerage account.

Who is your clearing firm?

National Financial Services LLC is the clearing broker for PNC Investments. A clearing firm is an organization that handles the settlement of transactions.

What Account Types does PNC Investments offer?

PNC Investments offers many choices of investment accounts, including:

What is the Brokerage Plus Account?

The Brokerage Plus account provides you with full-service from a PNC Investments professional and the ability to perform self-directed online trades. Our professionals apply their knowledge, experience and innovation to develop and deliver short-term and long-term options to help you achieve your goals. The Brokerage Plus account also offers you an integrated online experience to perform market data research, place trades, and manage your money in a highly visual and intuitive way.

How do I open a Brokerage Plus account?

You can stop by your local PNC Branch to speak with a PNC Investments professional, or give us a call at 855-PNC-INVEST (855-762-4683) to get started.

Is there a minimum deposit requirement necessary to open a Brokerage Plus account?

No. There currently is no minimum deposit required to establish an account; however, funds and/or securities must be deposited and available before trading can begin.

Which IRA is right for me?

PNC Investments offers many choices for IRAs, including Traditional and Roth IRAs. Determining which one is best for you will depend on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and your personal tax situation. To learn more, give us a call or visit our Retirement Center.

What are the commissions and fees associated with PNC Investments brokerage accounts?

Commissions and fees can be found on our Products and Services Overview. Please be aware these are specific to the account type you choose - not every account has the same fees and commissions. Contact your PNC Investments professional for more information related to Managed Account fees.

PNC Investments Products and Services Overview

Are there any fees associated with my IRA?

There are costs associated with the specific account type you choose. You can find these costs on the PNC Investments Products and Services Overview.

What is a cash account?

A cash account requires that funds are available to place a trade. All accounts are considered cash accounts unless margin privileges have been applied for and approved.

What is a margin account?

A margin account allows you to borrow money to fund transactions using eligible securities in your account for collateral. If you open a margin account, you will be charged interest on any margin loan you take from the account.

How do I fund my account?

You can deposit funds into your brokerage account via:

  • Online transfer from an eligible PNC Bank account with matching owner(s)
  • Electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a PNC or non-PNC Bank account with matching owner(s)
  • Check
  • Wire
  • Securities from another financial institution

Can I roll over my 401(k) plan account from a previous employer to my PNC Investments IRA?

Generally, any eligible rollover distribution from an employer-sponsored retirement plan (such as a 401(k) plan) is eligible for rollover to a PNC Investments IRA.

Can I transfer my account from another firm?

 Yes. PNC Investments can accept most assets transferred from accounts at other financial institutions.

How long does it take to transfer my account from another financial institution?

The time it takes to transfer an account from another financial institution to PNC Investments varies depending on the delivering firm.

Is there an account transfer fee?

When transferring an account to PNC Investments, fees associated with an account transfer are common and would be charged by the delivering firm. Check with your current financial institution.

When transferring an account from PNC Investments, view the PNC Investments Products and Services Overview to determine what charges may apply. 

How do I withdraw funds from my account?

PNC Investments offers multiple options as to frequency and methods of payment for withdrawing funds from your account. The process to withdraw funds may be started with a PNC Investments professional who will explain the options available to you.

Note: At this time, IRA distributions cannot be performed via PNC Online Banking. However, eSignature options are available with PNC Investments.

What is a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)?

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are minimum amounts that IRA and retirement plan account owners generally must withdraw annually starting with the year they reach age 72 (73 if you reach age 72 after Dec. 31, 2022). To learn more, please visit the IRS' retirement plans FAQs.

Which types of IRAs require me to take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)?

If you have a Traditional, Rollover, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA, you must take an annual lifetime RMD once you have reached your required beginning date. Roth IRAs are not subject to RMDs while the original account owner is alive. RMD rules also apply to employer-sponsored retirement plans, including profit-sharing plans, 401(k) plans, and 403(b) plans.

How do I take a distribution (including my RMD) from my PNC Investments IRA?

Distribution methods to choose from include:

  • Electronic funds transfer (EFT) to an eligible bank account with matching owner(s)
  • Check
  • Wire
  • Journal to a Non-Qualified brokerage account held with PNC Investments

Note: At this time, distributions (including RMDs) cannot be performed via PNC Online Banking. However, eSignature options are available with PNC Investments.

What types of guidance can my PNC Investments professional provide?

PNC Investments professionals make recommendations that match your unique financial goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance with appropriate investment products and services. A PNC Investments professional can offer guidance on:

  • Investment planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Asset allocation
  • Insurance planning
  • Stock option planning

Can PNC Investments manage my investments for me?

Yes, through our Managed Account products. PNC Investments has investment advisory account programs ("managed accounts") tailored to help meet your personal investing goals and structured to provide you with the benefits of professional management through a diversified portfolio of investments. See Managed Accounts section below.

Can I get recommendations from a PNC Investments professional?

Yes. Your PNC Investments professional is committed to being your advisor. PNC Investments professionals work to understand your financial goals and can offer guidance on a dynamic selection of investment choices available at PNC Investments. Recommendations made by PNC Investments representatives are intended to be acted on immediately by placing an order with your PNC Investments representative. If you wait to place an order after receiving a recommendation, market conditions or other factors may change at any time after the recommendation is given, which may render the recommendation untimely, unwise or possibly no longer suitable.

What should I consider before purchasing a security?

Before investing in any security, you should consider your investment objectives and risk tolerance, as well as the security's applicable sales charges and fees.

Please visit the following websites to learn more about online investing:

Tell me more about the features of my online account and the types of research I can access.

Provided your online brokerage account has been approved and enabled for trading, you will have access to a number of features and research within PNC Online Banking, including those listed below.

  • Invest online in approved mutual funds, listed stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs). See "What types of products can I trade online?" below.
  • Access account details such as balance and holding information, positions, trade history and pending orders (balances are as of the prior business day's closing)
  • Obtain quotes on stocks, mutual funds and ETFs
  • Access tax lot portfolio summary of unrealized gains and losses
  • View projected cash flow summary for future dated dividends, interest and maturities on a monthly and annual basis
  • Track securities of interest via My Watch List
  • Download investment activity to Quicken (sold separately)
  • Stay current on breaking financial news headlines
  • View interactive charts, presentations, quotes, company profiles and more

What are the online trading capabilities of the Brokerage Plus account?

You must have sufficient funds or margin added to your account in order to trade online. During regular market hours (9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET), the following order types are available: market, limit, stop loss and stop limit. Orders submitted during market hours will be processed for the same day. Generally, extended hours trading is not available; however, limit orders submitted after market hours will be processed for the following business day.

What if I want to exclude online trading on my account? What number should I call?

To make this request, please call PNC Investment Services Group at 1-800-622-7086.

What are the differences between the available online order types?

market order is an order to buy or sell a security during market hours at the best available current price. A price cannot be specified for this type of order. We are obligated to execute a market order fully and promptly, without regard to price and the price at which a market order executes may be significantly different than the quoted price at the time the order is placed. This order type guarantees execution, but does not guarantee execution price.

limit order is an order to buy or sell a security at a specified price, the "limit price," or better. If there is too much movement in the market, or the stock never reaches the specified limit price, the trade will not be executed. A limit order is not a guarantee that your trade will be executed at your limit price, it does, however, eliminate the risk that your order will be filled at a price worse than your limit price.

stop order, also referred to as a "stop-loss order," is an order to buy or sell a stock once the price of the stock reaches or passes through a specified price, called the "stop price." When the stop price is reached, a stop order becomes a market order. A buy stop order is entered at a stop price above the current market price, and generally is used to limit a loss or to protect a profit on a stock that an investor has sold short. A sell stop order is entered at a stop price below the current market price, and generally is used to limit a loss or to protect a profit on a stock that an investor owns. Stop orders in volatile markets will not guarantee an execution at or near the stop price.

stop limit order is an order to buy or sell a stock that combines the features of a stop order and a limit order. Once the stop price is reached, a stop limit order becomes a limit order that will be executed at a specified price (or better). The benefit of a stop limit order is that the investor can control the price at which the order can be executed. The disadvantage is that your order may not be filled in certain fast market conditions.

Once I enter an order, how is it processed?

Orders are routed through PNC Investments' clearing firm, National Financial Services LLC, which routes orders to various exchanges or market centers for execution. You will receive the price at which your order executes in the marketplace. This may be different from the price at which the security is trading when your order is entered. Certain order types, such as limit orders, can minimize the risk of receiving a less favorable execution price. See "What are the differences between the available online order types?" above. For additional information about how trades are processed, please refer to Important Information About Order Routing and Execution. Please note that certain orders may be subject to review and approval prior to execution, which may delay order execution.

How do I review the status of my order?

Within your investment account in PNC Online Banking, select Order Status for details on the status of your order. Open or executed orders can be viewed in Order Status.

Will I receive confirmation if/when an order has been executed?

Yes. You will receive trade confirmations in the mail for all orders executed through online services unless you have agreed to receive confirmations electronically through email notification. The trade confirmation will detail each executed transaction. This is the official record of the transaction. An account statement will also be mailed to your address of record quarterly (at a minimum) or monthly, if there is trading or cash management activity in the account. Your account statements will show all activity in your account for the stated period, including securities transactions, cash and margin balances, credits and debits to your account, and all fees paid directly from your account. If you'd like to receive statements electronically, you can make this election in Online Banking. Simply navigate to the Customer Service tab, and click on Activate Online Statements.

What are my obligations once an order/trade has been placed?

As a client, you agree to monitor the status of your order until execution is confirmed. Any pending or rejected orders can be viewed by selecting Order Status within your investment account in PNC Online Banking, and may require your follow-up with the PNC Investment Services Group at 1-800-622-7086. You should also carefully review your trade confirmations and account statements, and promptly inform us of any inaccuracies.

What if I need to cancel an order?

You can modify or cancel pending orders (orders not yet executed) by selecting Order Status within your investment account in PNC Online Banking.

Are there orders that cannot be modified or canceled?

Orders that have already been executed cannot be modified or canceled. See "Are order cancellations impacted by "fast markets"?" below.

Are there any risks involved in online trading?

There is always risk of loss when investing in securities, regardless of whether you trade online. Certain additional risks are specific to online trading. These include the following:

  • Online services may be delayed or unavailable during periods of high demand, market volatility, systems upgrades or maintenance, or for other unforeseen reasons. During these periods, quotes, orders and account information may be delayed or inaccurate. The price at which your order is executed may be different from the displayed quote at the time the order was entered due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • The market data provided with our online services are obtained from sources we believe to be reliable, but we cannot guarantee their accuracy, completeness, timeliness or correct sequencing.
  • Like any online account, your online trading account could be subject to unauthorized access. You must protect the confidentiality of your online access password. You must also monitor your account to ensure that all activity in the account was authorized by you and inform us if you see any unauthorized activity.
  • Certain investors trading online may also be tempted to "overtrade" by trading more frequently than they would ordinarily or without fully considering their investment goals and risk tolerance. Overtrading can lead to decreased performance and increased costs.

The following publications contain additional helpful information to consider when trading online:

What is a "fast market"?

Periods of high market volatility are referred to as "fast markets." A fast market is a trading session where the markets experience high levels of price and trading volatility. Extreme price fluctuations, backlogs and order imbalances can result, causing significant variances in price. The ability to execute orders in fast market conditions may be limited, and order execution may be delayed.

What can cause a "fast market"?

Events that can trigger a fast market include, but are not limited to:

  • Highly anticipated initial public offerings (IPOs);
  • Important company news;
  • A favorable or unfavorable analyst recommendation; and/or
  • National or world financial news or events.

Are order cancellations impacted by "fast markets"?

Yes, order cancellations are affected by fast market conditions. Under fast market conditions, it may not be possible to cancel limit orders. If you cancel an order, be sure that the cancellation actually occurs before entering a replacement trade. If you replace your order prior to receiving confirmation of the cancellation, you may duplicate your order and execution. Any duplicate orders entered are your responsibility.

What is day trading?

Day trading is a strategy that generally involves placing orders to both sell and buy the same security on the same day. See SEC information on day trading.

What are the risks of day trading?

By providing you with the ability to enter orders to buy and sell securities online, PNC Investments does not recommend or endorse day trading. Day trading is extremely risky and is generally not appropriate for someone of limited resources and limited investment or trading experience and low risk tolerance. If you engage in day trading, you should be prepared to lose all of the funds that you invest.

What is a managed account?

managed account is one that has an investment advisory relationship between you and your advisor. Based on your individual goals and risk tolerance, a custom portfolio is created and managed on your behalf by a professional money manager. A managed account can be discretionary or non-discretionary in nature, depending on the terms of your signed client agreement. See Fee Structure of Managed Account below.

How do I open a managed account with PNC Investments?

To open a managed account, contact a PNC Investments professional. Most managed programs are available in both retirement and non-retirement accounts.

What services do I get with a managed account?

You will receive investment advice and brokerage services. Also, to help you stay in touch with your investment, you will receive:

  • A monthly or quarterly brokerage statement detailing the current account activity, as well as the current value of your account
  • A quarterly performance report
  • A quarterly client newsletter
  • An annual average cost tax statement to assist with tax preparation
  • An annual comprehensive review

Describe the fee structure of a managed account.

PNC Investments managed account fees are charged quarterly in advance and are based on the average daily balance in the account. The program fee includes advice and services, custody and brokerage commissions. However, the program fee does not include mutual fund portfolio fees and expenses of the underlying assets in the account. See the product brochure for fees and details on billing.

What if there is an outage and online trading is unavailable?

In cases where internet trading is unavailable, PNC Investments has representatives to take orders over the phone. However, during periods of high volume, customers may experience delays in reaching a representative.

What action will PNC Investments take when online services may be delayed or unavailable during periods of high demand, market volatility, systems upgrades or maintenance, or for any other reason?

PNC Investments may temporarily halt online trading under these conditions, requiring you to place trades through a representative in the PNC Investment Center. If this occurs, an online message will direct you to call the PNC Investment Services Group at 1-800-622-7086.

What should I do if I have trouble accessing the online brokerage site?

You can contact the PNC Investment Services Group at 1-800-622-7086 any time from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday-Friday (with the exception of exchange holidays). A PNC Investments professional will be able to assist you.

How secure is trading online through PNC Investments?

Security is a priority at PNC. We are committed to protecting the security and confidentiality of your personal and financial information. We use a combination of state-of-the-art technology and methods to help to protect your security. For further information about online security, please refer to PNC's Online Security Information.

What can I do to ensure the security of my account?

Once your brokerage account is established, you can access it via PNC Online Banking. If you are a new PNC customer who does not yet have access to PNC Online Banking, you will receive credentials via mail with instructions on how to enroll. Never share your user ID or password with anyone. Do not write the password anywhere where someone may be able to access it. Change your password often and be sure to completely log out of the site after use. In the event that your user ID or password is compromised, please contact us immediately at 1-888-PNC-BANK (888-762-2265). For further information about online security, please refer to PNC's Online Security Information.

About Products

What types of products are available through PNC Investments?

PNC Investments offers our clients financial products. Some of our investment options include: 

  • Mutual funds
  • Annuities
  • Stocks
  • Bonds (fixed income)
  • Managed accounts
  • Long-term care solutions and life insurance

What types of products can I trade online?

Mutual fundsExchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), and stocks can be traded online using a Brokerage Plus account.

What is a mutual fund?

A mutual fund is an investment company that pools money from many investors to purchase a portfolio of securities under the advice of a professional money manager. Mutual funds invest in various types of securities ranging from U.S. and/or International stocks, bonds, real estate, money market instruments and/or any combination thereof.

For additional information on breakpoints and mutual funds, visit the websites of the Securities and Exchange Commission ( and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (

What mutual funds are available through PNC Investments online?

PNC Investments helps you achieve your goals by offering:

  • Both equity and fixed income funds, along with index funds and asset allocation funds
  • Different share classes as well as No Load and No Transaction Fee funds

Are there any limits regarding mutual fund purchases?

You are able to choose mutual funds from mutual fund families that maintain selling agreements with PNC Investments. Mutual fund companies have minimum amounts that you must invest; these can be found in the mutual fund prospectuses. To order a prospectus, please contact a PNC Investments professional.

What will PNC Investments charge me to purchase, redeem or exchange mutual fund shares?

Investment products have different and unique risks and costs associated with them. You should carefully read the prospectus or offering document associated prior to investing. To order a prospectus, please contact a PNC Investments professional.

Commissions and fees can be found in our PNC Investments Products and Services Overview.

What is a breakpoint discount and how can you receive one?

A breakpoint discount is a reduction in sales charges for a larger investment. Mutual fund prospectuses contain tables that illustrate the available breakpoint discounts and the investment levels at which breakpoint discounts apply. For more information, please read FINRA's disclosure on breakpoints. When placing a trade online, if you believe you are entitled to a breakpoint, please contact us.

What is a right of accumulation discount and how can you receive one?

A right of accumulation is a discount offered by some mutual funds that allows an investor to count the value of his or her previous purchase(s) of the same fund, or another fund within the same family, with the value of the investor's current purchase, to qualify for a breakpoint discount. You may be able to use existing holdings in multiple accounts, including your accounts at other broker-dealers or the accounts of certain related parties, to qualify for this type of discount. If you believe that you may qualify for a right of accumulation discount, please contact us.

What are class A, B, and C shares?

Class A shares of mutual funds impose a front-end sales charge at the time of purchase, which reduces the amount of your initial investment. Class A shares typically have lower operating expenses than class B or C shares.

Class B shares do not have a front-end sales charge but do have a back-end sales charge that is charged when the shares are liquidated within, typically, the first four to six years after purchase. After this period, the shares typically convert to class A shares. The amount of the fee declines based on how long you have owned the investment. Class B shares tend to have higher expenses than class A shares. 

Class C shares typically do not have a front-end sales charge but do have a back-end sales charge. Class C shares tend to have higher annual distribution expenses than A or B shares. Class C shares may convert to Class A shares after a period described in each fund’s prospectus. Our clearing firm has implemented a procedure to convert Class C shares to Class A shares in instances where an initial purchase date cannot be confirmed. 

What should you consider if purchasing a B or C share?

The purchase of B or C class shares defers the sales load you would ordinarily pay over time. B or C shares may not be suitable for all investors.

What cost basis selections does PNC Investments offer for mutual funds?

PNC Investments utilizes individual lot/ID cost accounting as the default option. A lot is a record of an opening transaction. However, you can use the average cost accounting method by notifying your PNC Investments professional in writing that you'd like to do so. Either method may impact historic cost depending on market conditions.

What is the difference between the two accounting methods?

Average cost - All assets are pooled with an average cost used for each unit regardless of original purchase price. Underlying units are depleted using FIFO as the default method. Specific versus-purchase liquidations are not supported. Unknown lots are depleted first.

I.D. cost - Individual lots are maintained and the cost associated with each lot is specific to original purchase information. Versus-purchase liquidations are supported. PNC Investments supports multiple depletion methods at the client level (FIFO, LIFO, HICO, etc). Firm level default is FIFO. Unknown lots are depleted first unless specific lots are identified prior to settlement date.

When using the ID lot accounting method, what depletion options will be available?

First in, first out (FIFO)
High cost in, first out (HICO)
High cost in, first out, long term (HICL)
High cost in, first out, short term (HICS)
Last in, first out (LIFO)
Low cost in, first out (LOCO)
Low cost in, long term (LOCL)
Low cost in, short term (LOCS)
Intra-day first in, first out (INFI)
Short-term tax sensitive (STTS)
Tax sensitive (TXSN)

These can be set as the default disposal method at the account level, or you can make a selection on a specific transaction. At the time of a transaction you have the option of selecting a particular depletion method (which can be different than what the default method is) and you also have the ability to select Specify Shares, which will allow you to view and select specific shares you would like to redeem.

Is there a default disposal method under the lot ID accounting method?

The firm level default disposal method under lot ID accounting method is FIFO. This can be changed by contacting a PNC Investments professional.

Can I change my disposal method through Online Banking?

No. At this time, you must contact a PNC Investments professional.

What is an equity?

An equity, commonly referred to as stock in a company, is a fractional ownership of a corporation. When the company profits or struggles, your investment may do the same. In addition, if you own common stock, you have voting rights, which allows you to have a say in some decisions of the corporation. Stocks in publicly traded companies are bought and sold in the stock market or on a stock exchange.

How many equities does PNC Investments offer access to online?

PNC Investments offers you access to equities listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE Euronext), NASDAQ and NYSE MKT formerly the American Stock Exchange (AMEX).

What commission will PNC Investments charge you to purchase or sell an equity online?

Commissions and fees can be found in our PNC Investments Products and Services Overview.

If I want to liquidate my entire position, how do I include fractional shares?

Fractional shares are automatically liquidated. The proceeds are based on the market price for each whole share, plus a proportional amount for each fractional share.

Does PNC Investments allow the purchase of penny stocks online?

No, you may not purchase penny stocks online. PNC Investments prohibits the purchase of penny stocks as defined in Rule 3a51-1.

What is "short selling"?

"Short selling" is a way to profit from a drop in the price of a company's stock. You borrow shares from your broker-dealer and sell them at their current market price; you eventually have to give those shares back, so you must then re-buy the shares (buy to cover). This strategy may pose risk because you must re-buy the shares at the then prevailing market price (which may have moved up or down), return them to your broker-dealer and pay any applicable transaction fees and margin interest.

Does PNC Investments allow the short sale of stocks online?

No, PNC Investments does not allow you to short any equities via the online platform

What is an Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)?

ETFs are investment portfolios designed to generally track, less fees and expenses, the performance of specific indexes, such as the S&P 500, MSCI World or the NASDAQ Composite Index. Like stock and bond investments, ETFs are traded on exchanges, and shares in ETFs can be purchased or sold during trading hours. Some ETFs also incorporate features of traditional index mutual funds, such as professional management.

How many ETFs does PNC Investments offer access to online?

PNC Investments offers access to a core offering of product options from some of the top providers in the industry.

However, PNC Investments does not offer inverse and/or leveraged ETFs.

(A leveraged ETF or leveraged inverse ETF is an exchange-traded fund that utilizes financial derivatives [futures contracts, swap agreements, options, etc.] and debt to amplify the returns or the inverse returns of an underlying index. An inverse ETF [also known as a "short ETF," or "bear ETF"] is an exchange-traded fund that is constructed by using various derivatives [futures contracts, swap agreements, etc.] for the purpose of profiting from a decline in the value of an underlying benchmark.)

What are some of the benefits of ETFs?

Depending on their investment objective, ETFs may be composed of a diverse array of securities-such as stocks, bonds or investments in commodities. They have the potential to provide the following benefits:

  • Investment focus - A wide variety of ETFs are available to potentially accommodate your investment preferences. In addition to domestic stock and bond ETF funds, international and sector-based ETFs may be used to add a specific focus to your investment activities.
  • Diversification - Since many ETFs are designed to track market indexes that may be made up of thousands of securities, you may have the opportunity to achieve broad exposure to an entire asset class, country, region or sector through a single investment.
  • Transparency - With a few exceptions, most ETFs publish their holdings on a daily basis. This means you can easily determine what you own and the value of your investment.
  • Tax efficiency - Because most ETFs strive to reflect-not outperform-market indexes, portfolio turnover is generally lower than that of actively managed mutual funds. As a result, ETF investors may be less likely to be subject to large capital gains exposures that can be generated by frequent buying or selling within actively managed funds, or by other shareholders pursuing capital gains distributions. Please consult your tax advisor for more information.

What are some of the risks of ETFs?

Market risk - Perhaps the most significant risk associated with ETFs is market risk. This risk is defined by the day-to-day fluctuations associated with any portfolio and defined by the perception of investors. Market risks include, but are not limited to: fiscal and monetary policy decisions, general economic conditions, geopolitical uncertainty, inflation or deflation concerns, commodity price fluctuations, and currency valuations.

Liquidity risk - All ETFs are purchased on an exchange with a bid and offer. In some cases, the number of shares trading in any given day may not easily support a sale or purchase at an efficient price relative to the underlying net asset value. In other cases where volume is high and market velocity rapid, ETFs have decoupled from their underlying net asset value. Also, many bond ETFs seem to trade at a premium or discount to net asset value.

Concentration risk - The degree of diversification in any particular ETF varies significantly and the underlying portfolio should be closely examined to see what level of diversification a fund may offer. Some ETFs are characterized by a heavy concentration in just a few stocks, particularly sector ETFs that are capitalization weighted indexes.

Interest rate risk - As interest rates rise and fall over time, these changes have a direct effect on the value of ETFs that are investing in bonds. As interest rates rise, the value of an ETF invested in bonds should be expected to fall. In a declining interest rate environment, the value of a bond ETF investment should rise. Longer-term bonds are more sensitive to changes in future inflation expectations than are short-term bonds.

Foreign investment risk - Many ETFs are organized to hold non-U.S.-based stocks. Investing in a basket of international stocks poses additional risks to shareholders, including currency risk, liquidity risk, geopolitical considerations, newly established and emergent markets, and less-stringent accounting methods.

Manager risk - Despite ETF transparency, you must understand the risks embedded in any underlying strategy. Otherwise, the use of ETFs may be substantially more risky than selecting very broad based mutual funds such as balanced funds.

Commission costs - In most cases, the purchase or sale of an ETF involves a commission. There may be an alternative to the ETF that is similarly invested that may be purchased without a commission in the form of a no-load index fund. This risk is most relevant for smaller accounts where the transaction costs as a percentage of your principal can significantly diminish the return on your portfolio.

Related Resources

The following information may be provided by PNC Investments affiliates, including PNC Bank, PNC Private Bank or PNC Institutional Asset Management®::


Your Retirement Planning Journey

Whether you’re just getting started or have been saving and investing for some time, make the most of your retirement assets with our educational resources.

Financial Tools

Browse Mutual Funds

Search for mutual funds by familyname, or symbol.


Brokerage Plus®

For clients who like flexibility when it comes to managing their investments - plus the convenience of independent, online trading.