My previous employer has offered me the option of cashing out of their pension program. I am new to investing on my own and a trusted friend referred me to a financial advisor who told me that I could get a better return on my money by cashing out and investing in 5 different mutual funds managed by American Funds. Would it be better for me to avoid the financial advisor and invest the money in some type of index fund, or does American Fund have good products? How do I go about making this type of decision?Here are the particulars:1. My previous employer was Time Warner (now AOL Time Warner). They have a pension and a 401K program. My 401K account is still intact and I don't have any immediate plans to move it. However, I am considering their offer to cash out of the pension program.2. I am about 18-20 years away from retirement.3. In all five cases, each American Funds prospectus contains a table showing the average annual total returns for one year, five years, ten years, and the lifetime of the fund. Two of the funds had disastrous years in 2000. However, the lifetime average in all five cases ranges from 12.92% to 17.79%.4. I'm not clear on how to asses the fees, loads, and commissions. It appears to depend on which class of shares you purchase. In particular, I'm looking at the a) EuroPacific Growth Fund (77% outside the US and 33% inside the US), b) Smallcap World Fund (worldwide companies with less than $1.5 billion in outstanding shares), c) Growth Fund of America (a variety of worldwide companies), d) Fundamental Investors (companies that have a commitment to R&D, among other characteristics), and e) the Washington Mutual Investors Fund (blue chip companies).5. I'm just getting into investing but haven't much reading about it nor do I have a great deal of time to do so. I've read the introductory material at the Fool web site and understand what steps must be taken, but haven't done any of it yet. For one thing, other than investing the retirement money from Time Warner I don't have enough money saved up for emergencies before I can start investing the rest. This has always been a desire of mine, but with a family and living off one income we've never been able to save more than two months worth of income as a reserve.6. I am aware that the money coming out of the retirement account will have to go into an IRA so I don't have to pay income taxes on it now.Thanks much.