Harold Ford had a unique compensation package before he took temporary leave from Merrill Lynch, one that was not consistent with what he says he'd like to see for Wall Street. From the Times:
Mr. Ford has said that he supports a system of pay in high finance that rewards profits and punishes poor returns. “I believe that people take risk, and there are rewards if they do well; they should lose if they don’t,” he said in an interview several weeks ago. As a vice chairman at Merrill Lynch, however, Mr. Ford benefited from an unusual arrangement that paid him generously regardless of how he and his firm perform. In 2007, he began working at the firm under a contract that guaranteed him annual compensation of at least $2 million ... With a bonus, his pay could well exceed that figure.
$2 million is not a lot in terms of final compensation at a big investment bank. But it is a lot to be guaranteed, regardless of performance. The Merrill CEO who hired him, Stan O'Neal, was guaranteed less than half that, for example, with the rest of his compensation doled out as bonuses. Maybe Harold Ford isn't your standard Wall Street candidate after all. As far as the Street goes, he was actually kind of, well, special.