Leon Campher | The Legacy Project | Business Investor


Mr. P. Leon Campher, also known as Philip, BEcon is the Founder of Syfrets Managed Assets as well as Coronation and African Harvest. Mr. Campher has an extensive experience in investment and asset management with Old Mutual, Syfrets Managed Assets, Coronation and African Harvest, retired from the executive positions in February 2002. He served as an Independent Non-Executive Chairman of Amalgamated Appliance Holdings Ltd. since February 1, 2008 until September 22, 2011. He serves as Deputy Chairman of the Bond Exchange of SA. He serves as an Executive Director with the Investment Management Association of SA.

He has been an Independent Non-Executive Director of Brimstone Investment Corporation Limited since March 7, 2006 and serves as its Lead Independent Director. He has been a Non-Executive Director of Sun International Ltd. since 2002. Mr. Campher holds Directorships with STRATE, and Market Abuse. He served as Director of Amalgamated Appliance Holdings Ltd. from November 2007 to September 22, 2011.

Leon Campher Definition Of Success | You are successful when you are recognised for being good at what you do. In order to achieve success, you need to be a person of honour where your word is your bond. And you need to be prepared to make a difference, whether in business, your community, or within your country. I have always lived by this – the definition hasn’t changed over the years.


I Am Driven By | I’m driven to meet the challenges that life invariably presents. I also like initiating change – not for the sake of it, but to make a difference and to continuously find better ways of doing things. The rule is to never become complacent.

Money has never been a driving factor in my life. Of course, anybody starting their career will think of money to balance the books, but it shouldn’t drive you. My philosophy has always been: “Be very good at what you do and earn respect”. If the money flows, that’s good. But money in itself should never be your endgame – it’s merely a means to an end. Don’t measure your success in numbers. It will always leave you unhappy since there will always be someone worth more than you.


My Highlights | There have been many highlights, both in my career and in my personal life. One of the earliest proud moments must have been when my peers elected me as the head boy of Greys College in 1965.

Another highlight was the launch in 1992 of the Community Growth Fund by my team at Syfrets Managed Assets. This went down in history as the country’s first empowerment deal with the unions.

An exceptionally proud moment was the establishment of Coronation Fund Managers in 1993. This was significant, because by launching a new asset management company at a time when we were moving into the new South Africa made a very strong statement that we were backing what was to come.

Lastly, pulling together four trade associations representing different parts of the savings and investment industry in 2008 was no mean feat. Just as we launched the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA), the global financial crisis intensified, causing consumer confidence in financial services around the world to hit an all time low. I firmly believe that the timing of a unified savings and investment industry association could not have been better and I am proud of the fact that the industry I represent achieved this.

I have to say that most of this could not have been achieved without the support from my wife, Morae.


A Key Talent | I attribute much of my success to the following: being able to identify good people to work with and realising that you’re never too old to learn.


My advice: You must be prepared to listen. If you don’t listen, you don’t learn – and you can learn many things from many people.

If you want to be a leader, there are three things you need to remember. Firstly, make sure your EQ and your IQ far exceed your ego.  This will enable you to admit your mistakes, which is the second point to remember. Being able to admit mistakes is a sign of strength, not weakness – just don’t keep on making the same mistakes. Lastly, earned respect is more powerful than bestowed titles. Take Muhatma Ghandi for instance. He was an unbelievable person that earned huge respect.  He was never the leader of India, but he is recognised as having been fundamental in helping to create India.

Find delight in other people’s success and help them to achieve. Have great joy at their success. It’s not all about you, and if people around you are successful, you will be too.


Principles I Live By | Be a man of your word. Also, there’s no way of doing the wrong thing right. Always do the right thing right.


Lessons I Have Learnt | The first big lesson I learnt was from one of my mentors in the early days of my career, who compared me to a baboon in a mielie patch. He pointed out that I would jump from one thing to the next without properly applying myself to any one challenge. He taught me to concentrate, focus and prioritise. My dad also gave me solid advice when I graduated. He said: “You know what? You’re going to work now, and you know nothing. Keep your ears open and your mouth shut. That’s how you learn.”


The Meaning Of Life | Life is great and you should be appreciative of what you have. Make a point of believing that life is good with the odd bad day. Don’t hold the attitude that life is bad with the odd good day. No matter what your circumstances are, realistically there is always someone worse off than you. There is no need to feel sorry for yourself.


The Best Advice I’ve Received | Keep your mouth shut and your ears open. Focus and prioritise.


Advice On Building Wealth | Achieving wealth should never be your priority. Make sure you are good at what you do, persevere and the rest will come. After all, success is 80% perspiration and 20% inspiration.


I Am Inspired By | Nelson Mandela, because he had the ability to transcended politics. After being locked up for 27 years, he wanted a country that was good for everybody. His legacy to us is this country and its nation.
It was through his enormous personal sacrifice, humanity and unique style of leadership that Madiba created a democratic South Africa where all of us are considered equal. Our job is to make it work if we want to honour his legacy.
Also Ghandi, because without violence he created a whole new country, namely India, post colonial rule.
Others include Bill Gates and Jack Welch, because they are people who have created legacies and empires but remained humble.


The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | Whether I have or have not left a legacy is something that others need to decide.


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