Dr. Merv Lincoln

Vale Dr Mervyn “Merv” George Lincoln (1933 – 2016)

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Celebrating the life of a great Australian

Today Lincoln Indicators announced the passing of its founder and great Australian, Dr. Mervyn Lincoln following a prolonged battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Lincoln passed away peacefully on the evening of Sunday 1 May surrounded by family. Dr. Lincoln was aged 82.

A great Australian talent

Blessed with many talents, a fierce competitive streak and a desire to help his fellow Australians, Dr. Lincoln first came to prominence as a successful middle-distance runner.

Dr. Lincoln was the third Australian and the 11th man in the world to break the magical four-minute mile at his home track at the University of Melbourne on a sunny March afternoon in 1957. With emerging runner Ron Clarke as his pacemaker for the first two laps, Dr. Lincoln came home to complete the mile in 3 minutes, fifty-eight point nine seconds.

Amongst his many sporting achievements Dr. Lincoln represented Australia in the 1500 meters at two Olympic Games (1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome) and in the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales where he won the silver medal in the mile behind fellow Australian and long-time foe Herb Elliot.

Dr. Lincoln also won the 1957 US National Mile Championship and the 1959 Australian Championship for the mile in Hobart.

A rivalry that divided a nation

The battles between Merv Lincoln (VIC) and the great Herb Elliot (WA) became part of Australian sports folklore as the two competed for world supremacy over the mile. Other competitors included Ron Delaney (IRE), Laszlo Tabori (HUN) and Murray Halberg (NZ), and were among the formidable foes pitted against the two Australians in what was to become the golden age of mile running throughout the world. But it was the battle between Lincoln and Elliot that captured the hearts of sports lovers in Australia.

The battles between the two often became more about the coaches than the athletes themselves.

Dr. Lincoln was coached by the Austrian-born Franz Stampfl, who was a bitter rival of Elliott’s coach Percy Cerutty. The rivalry rumoured to stem from Cerutty’s failure to win a role at the Victorian Amateur Athletic Association. Instead, Stampfl was appointed. The performance of their charges was interpreted by Stampfl and Cerutty as a reflection on their own abilities.

Life in the media

Dr. Lincoln retired from competitive running in 1960 following the Rome Olympics.

He recommenced a career in the world of academia that would ultimately lead him to build a reputation as a successful businessman. His personable style and common man touch also saw Dr. Lincoln hold down a number of media roles across both the sporting and economic arenas.

However, it was his sports media career that endeared him further to many Victorian households, particularly when he joined Ron Casey and the team hosting World of Sport on HSV7 as their track and field, swimming and amateur sports correspondent.

Working alongside media personalities such as Casey, Bill Collins, Lou Richards, Jack Dyer and Uncle Doug, Dr. Lincoln became part of one of the most popular TV shows in Melbourne that was a Sunday morning staple for all sporting fans.

Amongst his 20-year media career he covered the Stawell Gift from 1962 – 1980.

Dr. Lincoln’s career in finance

Dr. Lincoln’s academic career saw him become a pioneer in the field of finance.

An esteemed academic at the University of Melbourne and RMIT, he received his Doctorate of Philosophy in 1983 from the University of Melbourne for what was to become a seminal piece of work in Australia.

Utilising a multivariate regression approach to statistical modelling and with the vast mainframes available to him at the University, Dr. Lincoln set about solving a problem – how do we measure the financial stress points of a company.

A seminal work

In Dr. Lincoln’s study, models were constructed using company data; both those that had failed and those that had survived during the period 1969 to 1978.

Using a sample of failed and non-failed companies, a set of financial ratios were selected which yielded a linear function of ratios making the best distinction between the two groups. It was necessary to acknowledge the financial characteristics of industries differ and models were constructed for different industry groups. Titled ‘An empirical study of the usefulness of accounting ratios to describe levels of insolvency risk (1982)’ it was to be the first quantitative assessment of credit risk developed using Australian company data and accounting standards available.

Prior to this point, only risk models developed overseas were available such as the famous Altman Z-score.

Dr. Lincoln’s L-score was quickly considered by many practitioners as the new standard. He spent the remainder of his academic teaching life espousing the virtues of his model and advising many of Australia’s future finance leaders on his work.

Professional life

Following the completion of his doctoral thesis, Dr. Lincoln decided to leave the University and carved a career for himself as an adviser to the Government and public sectors.

Dr. Lincoln also forged a strong career within the MBA circuit where his love of teaching inspired him to share his work with a much broader audience than simply the credit-risk departments of large corporate organisations.

After observing a number of high profile corporate collapses in the eighties, that led to many of his personal friends and business acquaintances losing money in situations that could have been easily avoided, Dr. Lincoln saw an opportunity to help both businesses and individual ‘mum and dad’ investors. He set about providing his deep insights into the level of financial risk a company and its investors were exposed to, on a wider scale.

Lincoln Indicators Pty Ltd

With the assistance of his son, Tim Lincoln who was an experienced computer programmer, Dr. Lincoln developed two products, Risk Manager, and Stock Doctor.

Risk Manager was a service by which businesses could easily assess the credit worthiness of other companies to which they were extending credit.

Stock Doctor was the vehicle from which Dr. Lincoln derived most enjoyment. This solution targeted at retail share market investors provided every day Australians with insights not previously available. This empowered investors to avoid investing in future corporate failures such as HIH, Ansett, OneTel and many other subsequent high-profile disasters. Stock Doctor gave every day Australians the ability to invest in the ASX with confidence.

In 1997, he handed custodianship of the Lincoln business to his son, and our current Managing Director, Tim Lincoln who continues to proudly carry the torch of Dr. Lincoln’s vision.

Today Lincoln Indicators is a successful business in Melbourne providing both research and managed fund solutions, delivering on Dr. Lincoln’s ultimate goal of helping thousands of investors achieve share market success.

Life after business

In later years, Dr. Lincoln’s sporting career was ultimately recognised through a number of key acknowledgements. These culminated in the carrying of the Olympic Torch for the 2000 Sydney Games in his childhood home town of Wodonga, as well as the Queens Baton prior to the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

A humble man, Dr. Lincoln spent the final years of his life at Phillip Island where he became a strong community figure and continued to be an active investor until he was forced to relinquish those duties as the aliment, that would ultimately claim this remarkable Australian, took hold.

Dr. Lincoln is survived by his wife Dawn, children Tim, Tony and Deborah along with his seven grandchildren.

We encourage anyone wishing to mark the passing of Dr. Lincoln to please donate to Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation under the name “Dr. Merv Lincoln”. If you wish to donate, please visit our Everyday Hero page.

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