The bear market isn't mauling everyone. Sign-on bonuses for top performers at leading mutual fund and brokerage firms "are now as high as the signing bonuses some professional sports teams pay for star athletes," notes Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, in his new book, Take on the Street (see interview, page 2).

At the height of the bull run, fund companies wooed star wholesalers with guaranteed annual contracts of half a million dollars or more, according to Cerulli Associates of Boston. Top rainmakers even commanded $1 million.

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