I faced a similar predicament about a year ago. I had about 5k invested with American Funds and I had already been hit with the front load sales charge. I ended up biting the bullet, politely telling my financial adviser to ____ himself, and moving everything over to Vanguard.

1. Yes, the sales charges are too high and this is a front load. Compare this to Fidelity or Vanguard, where there are zero sales charges. In addition, my annual fee was .70%...which doesn't seem like a lot. Compare this to Vanguard's VTSAX which amounts to .05% (14 times less expensive).

2. Here's a neat tool to answer the question:

http://www.moneychimp.com/calculator/compound_interest_calculator.htmFirst input 10,000 principal, yearly addition $5185 (note this is the $5500 max minus 5.75% of it)

Years to grow: 30

Interest rate: 6% minus .70% = 5.3%

Future value: ~$430k

Then compare this to 10,000 principal, yearly addition $5500

Years to grow: 30

Interest rate: 6% minus .05% = 5.95%

Future value: ~$513k

3. I would recommend Vanguard (VTSMX into VTSAX) or Fidelity Spartan Series (I believe it's FUSEX).

The process of transferring everything is all said and done in about 2-4 weeks. It's actually not difficult - the companies handle it for you.