A Message from Rich Fairbank

Read a message sent to associates from Capital One's Chairman and CEO about our response to the pandemic


I hope this letter finds you safe and healthy.

A few weeks ago, the coronavirus (COVID-19) may have felt like a distant threat. But now it has reached our collective doorstep and the pace of change is dizzying. My heart goes out to associates who are sick or are caring for loved ones or friends. I am grateful that our teams have moved quickly to enact social distancing measures to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in our workplace and in our communities.   

This is an extraordinary moment in human history. We are witnessing three unprecedented events sweep the world with breathtaking speed: A global pandemic, a near shutdown of the world, and a fiscal intervention on a magnitude unseen in generations. Uncertainty is everywhere. The global economy is on hold, and many businesses and individuals are unable to simply wait it out. How this will play out is difficult to predict. But Capital One is well prepared and we have sprung into action.

If you ever wondered how critical the work that you do is, take note that banking is considered an essential service that has been exempted from the shutdowns now sweeping across our society. We support customers and commerce by processing payments, taking deposits, extending loans, and stewarding people’s savings and investments. Banks—and yes, you—are the lifeblood of our fragile economy. Today, I want to update you on our efforts to support our associates, customers, and communities.

We Have Transformed How We Work and Serve Our Customers 

Earlier this month, we began implementing measures to achieve social distancing and to work from home on a mass scale. Since then we have taken additional, aggressive steps to protect associates in our call centers, bank branches, and cafés. I am in awe of what you’ve accomplished in just a few days:

  • Through remarkable ingenuity and teamwork, our operations teams have been able to massively increase the number of customer support associates who work from home. In just two weeks, we have increased the size of this team from 1,600 to over 13,000.
  • We made the difficult decision to temporarily close banking locations that do not have a physical barrier between associates and customers, including all of our Capital One Cafés and a quarter of our branches. At locations with drive-through windows or glass barriers, we continue to provide critical banking services with significant new safety precautions. 
  • Across our workforce, more than 40,000 associates are using VPN to work remotely and securely. Our technology infrastructure and systems have proven to be effective and resilient. We have been able to serve customers, collaborate to solve problems, successfully manage critical functions, and keep the business operating at a high level.

We Are Doing More for Associates in Key Roles that Support Our Customers 

On March 11, we announced increased paid leave and more flexible attendance policies to allow associates to care for their families and loved ones. Over the past week, we took additional steps:

  • We increased pay by $10 per hour for branch ambassadors working in open locations and for roles that perform essential and time-sensitive banking activities that cannot be performed remotely.
  • We increased pay by $5 per hour for other U.S.-based associates in roles instrumental to maintaining essential customer support, such as call center agents.

We are also working with partner organizations to ensure that vital contractors—who support our associates and keep our buildings and services running smoothly—are being taken care of during this challenging time.

We Are Helping Our Customers Weather the Storm

While business activity has slowed, we have continued to support consumers and business clients who rely on our products and services to live their lives, support their families, or make payroll. We have doubled ATM withdrawal limits and waived ATM fees for our banking customers. And our digital tools and servicing platforms allow consumers and businesses to manage their finances remotely. 

We have a range of policies and programs to accommodate customer hardships. For customers who let us know they are being impacted, we are here to support and work with them. We are offering assistance to consumers and small business owners, including waiving fees or deferring payments on credit cards or auto loans. Our frontline associates are well-trained and well-prepared to serve customers in times of financial stress or hardship, and I am grateful for the service you are providing as the number of hardship cases increases. 

I am moved by the heartfelt notes of gratitude from our customers who, despite all the chaos and uncertainty in their own lives, have taken time to write to Capital One. They are emotional about how our associates have served them with kindness and compassion, and they are grateful for how our company is supporting them during this crisis. 

We Are Committing $50 Million to Support Our Communities

The crisis is impacting every community where our customers and associates live and work. Today we are announcing a $50 million commitment of new and existing funds to support nonprofit partners who are serving local communities in this extraordinary time of stress and disruption. As part of this initiative:

  • Capital One will expand, accelerate, and repurpose relief grants to local partners who are focused on food and hunger aid, assistance to small business owners, and support for low-income individuals. Our partners have had to adapt quickly to address the significant impacts of the pandemic, and we are here to ensure they have the support they need to rise to this challenge.
  • Capital One will create a corporate matching program for our associates who choose to donate personal funds to select nonprofits focused on COVID-19 relief efforts.

For more information about these and other community efforts, please visit here.

We Are Ready to Take On This Challenge

This virus will challenge our economy and every company in it. It is impossible to fully plan for adversity like this. But from Capital One’s founding moment, we have been focused on resilience. Our conservative choices on credit, capital, and liquidity will serve us well in this unpredictable environment. 

We will also be well-served by our investments in technology and transforming how we work. Being built like a modern technology company has allowed us to respond like a modern technology company: rapidly identifying stresses in the system, harnessing data and software to reimagine new ways of thinking, and quickly scaling solutions to our associates and customers. As the pandemic has unfolded, our teams have come together swiftly, collaboratively, and ingeniously to solve problems and confront new challenges. In a matter of days, we dramatically reinvented how we work and serve our customers. It has been an incredible effort by an extraordinary team, and I am profoundly grateful for your hard work and sacrifice to make it happen.

As a leadership team, we are fully focused on how Capital One can meet this moment. And like all of you, I am adapting to new ways of working while at the same time taking on a foe I’ve never seen before. Today, as I’m at home with my wife and children, exiled from our normal rush of daily activities, I watch with wonder the selfless dedication of doctors, nurses, and researchers fighting against time to tame this global pandemic. The world has been knocked back on its heels. But human ingenuity and determination will not be defeated.

And I can’t help but feel that this event will reveal what makes Capital One special. We will be tested, and we will need to harness the best of our horsepower and our humanity. We are bonded by shared values and guided by our Mission. I am inspired by the creative ways you have risen to the challenges of this moment, solving difficult problems in real time and serving customers with heart and grace. And I am humbled to lead such a passionate and talented team of 50,000 people who are all-in to drive our company forward in the most unusual of circumstances. 

With deep gratitude,
Rich