Here's my first suggestion on top rated investment institutions because of their low fees. After doing much research early in my working career, I found that Fidelity and Vanguard both had the lowest fees. There were several analysis that shows how much more one can expect to earn from low fee investments; it makes a big difference in the long term.
As with any investment, growth of funds is not guaranteed. Based on that scenario, it behooves any investor to really investigate the long term performance of any fund. Morningstar.com is a good place to start.
When I look at the ten year performance of our funds, I am very pleased with the results. Our balance before the 2008 debacle has not impacted our funds for ten years since 2007, and I've withdrawn a goodly amount. I have withdrawn 40% from our funds, but my current balance is about the same from ten years ago.