PNC Bank Corp. said it will give 401(k) plan clients the ability to gain access to their accounts on-line by early next year.

The Pittsburgh banking company has chosen a vendor to supply a Web-based interactive program for its Vested Interest 401(k) plan, said Patricia S. Bergey, the plan director.

She declined to name the vendor, saying details of the arrangement were still being hammered out. A rollout is planned by March 31, she said.

Using a hot button on PNC's Web participants will be able to change their asset allocations and request application forms to borrow against their accounts, among other services. Currently, investors must do such business over the phone, either by talking to a representative or using a touch-tone pad, Ms. Bergey said.

The six-year-old Vested Interest program is a full-service, defined- contribution retirement plan that includes investment management and funds servicing for middle-market companies. The middle market, in PNC's lexicon, consists of plans with 100 to 5,000 participants.

Vested Interest participants can choose from PNC's $43.4 billion proprietary funds as well as from seven nonproprietary fund families, including Fidelity Investments, Janus, Invesco, and Scudder Kemper Investments.

PNC's 401(k) specialty lies in the middle-market area, a segment other departments of the bank have cultivated by dealing with midsize corporations, Ms. Bergey said. The bank currently has 460 midsize defined- contribution plans on its books, she said.

Elsewhere, PNC does some investment-only 401(k) business for large plans, those with 5,000 or more participants, and works with smaller plans, those with fewer than 100, through a program called Blackrock Retirement Rewards, Ms. Bergey said.

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