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Greetings, 1kraut, and welcome. You wrote:

<<My company started a Simple retirement plan and chose a local broker
because of concerns about the liability of being seen as giving
financial advice if we were to chose one ourselves. I am not happy with
the returns of the chosen plan holder (American Funds) or the fact that
I have to pay this guy 5% up front for doing nothing! What is involved
in changing plans? I have an IRA with eTrade and would be happy to
switch to them. >>

Your employer may indeed specify that the initial contributions be made in an account established with the local broker. However, you have the right to transfer that money to a SIMPLE-IRA (I assume you're talking about a SIMPLE-IRA and not a SIMPLE-401k) provider of your choice. You may not be charged a fee for such a transfer, but the initial deposit may still incur charges. If you wish to do so, then you must find a custodian who is willing to accept the transfer in a SIMPLE-IRA from the SIMPLE-IRA you have with the present provider. If you have a SIMPLE-401k, then you're stuck. You can't transfer that until you leave your job.

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