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Our History

The Savings Banks Employees Retirement Association ("SBERA") was formed in 1944 to provide retirement benefit plans to personnel of Mutual Savings Banks (and related organizations) in Massachusetts. SBERAís formation was authorized by the Massachusetts Legislature in Chapter 249 of the Acts of 1943. For almost four decades SBERA operated as an independent organization, and as a multiple-employer plan whereby all member employers shared assets and liabilities.

In 1981, the Trustees of SBERA contracted with Savings Banks Life Insurance ("SBLI") to have SBLI provide the systems, expertise and personnel necessary to administer the SBERA Defined Benefit Pension Plan. Francis D. Pizzella, President of SBLI, assumed the additional title of President and Plan Administrator of SBERA.

Over the next decade, Mr. Pizzella's leadership and vision brought many changes to the structure of SBERA. Two major innovations were the unbundling of the Defined Benefit Pension Plan into single employer plans for each adopting employer, and giving terminating and retiring participants the option to receive their pension benefit in a "lump sum".

In 1991, legislation made it possible for any member of the Massachusetts Bankers Association to join SBERA. The following year Mr. Pizzella retired as President and Plan Administrator of SBERA and was succeeded by Thomas Forese, Jr. Click here for a message from Mr. Forese.

Throughout the 1990's, there was a significant increase in the number of SBERA members offering Defined Contribution 401(k) Plans to their employees. Reflecting changing employment patterns and the evolution of retirement benefit solutions, there are today more SBERA members offering 401(k) Plans than Defined Benefit Pension Plans.

In October 1998, Northeast Retirement Services ("NRS") replaced SBLI as the administrator of SBERAís Plans. NRS is a for-profit corporation with a national reputation for providing customized administrative and processing solutions for retirement benefit plans, endowment programs and charitable trusts. While SBERA is legislatively restricted to offering qualified retirement benefit plans, through our close processing partnership with NRS, SBERA can offer ESOPís, Stock Funds, SERPís, FSA Accounts and Actuarial Consulting to its members.

On January 1, 2004 legislation was enacted that made membership in SBERA "voluntary", and membership was also opened to any customer of a SBERA member bank.

Now in its seventh decade, SBERA is a growing, vibrant organization with over forty employees. Membership has expanded both outside of Massachusetts and outside of the banking industry. With over $1.45 billion in assets, 80 Plans, and more than 18,000 participants SBERA is an acknowledged leader in the retirement benefit plan market.
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