The Southeast Benefits Education Network, formerly Southern Employee Benefits Conference was incorporated as the Southern Pension Conference by order of the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, on December 9, 1969, as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. In February 1991, the name was modified from “Pension” to “Employee Benefits” to better reflect the purpose of the Conference and broader representation of its membership.
The founders of the corporation were Blackburn H. Hazelhurst and Harry V. Lamon, Jr. The Conference is an educational organization with the express purpose “…to plan and conduct conferences and seminars and, if deemed advisable, to publish proceedings thereof.”
The initial members of the Conference Steering Committee elected at the organizational meeting were: Willard L. Bland, Nashville, Tennessee; E. Robert Liggett, Charlotte, North Carolina; William H. Manly, Birmingham, Alabama; and Paul F. Brown, Robert M. Fink, John H. Guess, Blackburn H. Hazelhurst, Harry V. Lamon, Jr., Calvin H. Morton and L. J. O’Callaghan, all of Atlanta, Georgia. The first officers were: Blackburn H. Hazelhurst, President; William H. Manly, Vice President; Harry V. Lamon, Jr., Secretary; and Paul F. Brown, Treasurer.
Between 1970 and 1972 the primary efforts of the Steering Committee were in the area of establishing liaisons with the other pension conferences to provie an exchange of ideas concerning the Treasury’s proposals with respect to the tax reform legislation then pending in Congress. This pending legislation became what we know today as ERISA.
In 1973 the Conference began publication of its quarterly newsletter SOUPCON’, which was the brainchild of William A. Ferguson of Tillinghast and Company. Distribution to all members kept them current on matters of importance.
By 1975 the Southern Pension Conference had established its now-familiar pattern for meetings. Each year there is a one-day session Atlanta called the “Fly-In” meeting. The Annual Educational Conference is held at a leading hotel within the geographical region served by the Conference. Well-known speakers are featured and there are in-depth workshops and group meetings where the emphasis is placed on participation by conferees.
The Southeast Benefits Education Network is an intra-disciplinary organization which accepts as members practitioners from the following fields: Employers/Plan Sponsors, Accounting, Administration, Actuarial and Benefits consulting, Insurance, Investment Counseling, Investment Services, Legal, and trust as well as many other disciplines as the industry evolves.
Through the past decades, the Conference has promoted such understanding and substantial goodwill among the various disciplines by having them work together in a spirit of cooperation on various committees planning the educational events provided by the SBEN.
In 2016, the Southern Employee Benefits Conference changed it's name to Southeast Benefits Education Network. The name change came about to encompass the growth from an annual conference to include several regional workshops and events, with the primary focus being on both education and networking within the benefits industry. One of the uniqueness of the Southeast Benefits Education Network is the focus on relationships. Employers and their providers and advisors build on these relationships to not only learn from each other but build on these relationships to forge lifelong friendships.
While times have change with the advancement of technology, the increase in regulatory activity and the complexity of the benefits world, the underlying principles are as important as ever. Our events continue to provide timely and relevant sessions on the many areas that impact our business.
As we move forward into the future within the Southeast Benefits Education Network, let us not forget those members whose efforts have promoted the educational aspects of the Conference and its continued growth. And may the past 4 plus decades lead us to many more decades of these relationships and learning opportunities.