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Vault’s Verdict

Chill out

The culture is "fairly laid-back," "collegial and collaborative," but "Capital One defines its values different from how some other organizations do," some insiders say.  "For example, the firm talks a lot about teamwork but I find it to have the least teamwork of any place I've ever worked," elaborates one insider.  "Teamwork is more reaching out to colleagues and getting them to buy into your projects."  Even so, other sources call the culture "consensus-based and genteel," full of colleagues who are "warm, friendly and inclusive."  And others note that Capital One is a "fairly young company with a very young workforce," and say it has "long been known for its entrepreneurial environment and very collegial work culture."

One insider notes that the firm has "a fast-track career development.  However, the company is maturing very fast into a big bank-type workplace, which has a lot to do with the industry they are in and the big banks they're competing with."  For the time being, "the culture is very collaborative," says another insider.  "The company's primary motive is for its employees to enjoy coming to work every day, ensuring a daily challenge and a fun place to work."  Others say that the firm has "a culture of encouraging great analysis and allowing all employees to participate in decision making through good arguments."

Some sources believe that Capital One's culture has been changed by growth.  "With the rapid expansion, the company is definitely trying to keep up the internal organization with that pace," observes one source.  "The culture within the firm is strong and apparently favors people who can speak loud and make their voices heard."  One pleased contact says, "People here are very smart and have a very high level of analytical ability and quantitative skill."

As for managers, one respondent says, "I've had some great managers and some not-so-great managers."  He adds, "Regular feedback is encouraged and will help you grow.  I've learned a lot.  The key to success is to network at the level more senior than yours."  Another contact comments, "in general, the working atmosphere is fun and pleasant, and collaboration is essential for success."

Depends on where you look

The company has a "diverse culture," notes an insider.  But that may not be an attribute that occurs throughout the entire firm.  Although Capital One is "very diverse at the lower levels, once you get to the senior levels, it's not," notes an insider.  "It's very much a frat boy culture in some departments, as well.  The company is working to address this, but they have a long way to go."  Another calls the firm "preppy and white bread," saying, "It's perfect for the typical Ivy-Leaguer or MBA who wants to work in a straightforward, hierarchical environment.  Your day will be scheduled down to the minute and you'll learn to follow process."  However, another source says, "The culture is very open, with associates at all levels able to challenge the status quo and to push on our strategies and latest thinking."

You have great freedom to move horizontally and try out different roles that interest you."  And according to Capital One, the firm "works to create an atmosphere of inclusion" through hosting diversity forums with presenters such as Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential nominee, and Betty DeGeneres, mother of actress and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres.  The firm says it has also established associate networks that provide support in the form of programs, resources and tools "enabling Capital One's diverse associates to achieve their full potential in an environment that values the differences everyone brings to the workplace."

Leverage it

Compensation is "very highly leveraged," and the bonus opportunity is anywhere from "0 to 60 percent."  And "sign-on bonuses vary a lot," but "you have leverage in working with your recruiter on this."   Overall, however, you may get paid the same rate regardless of the area in which you work, some insiders say.  One notes, "It seemed like the DC and Richmond areas paid the same even though it's cheaper to live in Richmond."  The contact adds, "It's easier to get hired if you are willing to work in Richmond." Another source says of his offer, "The base salary was barely enough [but] Capital One interviewers and HR staff will repeatedly tell you how inexpensive Richmond is.  The key is Richmond was inexpensive at one time."

Benefits include a generous 401(k) that "matches half of employee contributions up to 6 percent," a "stock purchase plan for employees" and an "onsite fitness center" in some locations.  Additionally, the firm offers "educational reimbursement provided for bachelor's or graduate degrees."  There is also a "free on-site health center with a doctor in Richmond," "concierge service," "good food service," "discounts to retailers and theaters," "quarterly social events" and "lots of community events."  One source points to another nice perk: "three weeks of vacation and four weeks after five years" with the firm.  And it doesn't hurt that the dress code is "business casual" and employees "can wear jeans on Friday."  The firm also offers an interesting perk, "they give us free coffee and one free week of meals during what is called Month End," one insider says.

Hours tend to "vary a lot by department," but Capital One isn't keeping anybody in the office or demanding face time.  "Culture is focused on getting the work done, not how many hours you spend doing it," says an insider.  Even so, some sources admit "work hours can be long."  Others say hours are "dependent on the current projects you're working on."  One contact says that though "hours are very reasonable and mostly you're working 40 to 50 hour weeks, once in a while there could be spikes where you're working 60 to 80 hours per week, depending on projects and roles."  The insider adds that "flexible work arrangements are increasingly being encouraged."  Either way, "some employees have a lot of flexibility, and can work from home and have flexible hours, but others do not."  One insider suggests that "if flexibility is important to you, ask about this before accepting the job so you aren't disappointed."  Another contact says, "It is not an up-or-out type of environment—you can cruise, as long as you are competent and get your work done."

Nice outlook

Things are looking rosy for the firm lately.  "The company has been doing great lately, and I would expect it to continue growing at a healthy rate," one source enthuses.  There's a "positive outlook" among staff, and "morale is generally good, though it varies by department."  One insider notes that "the morale was hurt when the company started establishing tighter corporate governance policies and sharpening control of the policies following a memorandum of understanding signed with the Federal Reserve."  But others say that the company "continues to manage its credit card business very well and has embarked on an aggressive new product development plan."  And it's been "actively acquiring new businesses to ensure that it is fully diversified and continues to have growth opportunities."  A contact agrees, for the most part, saying, "Overall business outlook is good, but challenging.  The core credit card business is slowing, but Capital One is diversifying into highly fragmented business areas, ”auto, home equity, retail banking, ”with excellent growth and consolidation prospects."  Indeed, the firm has a "rock solid strategy to expand and diversify," and "very strong leadership and analyst teams."

Capital One

1680 Capital One Dr.
McLean, VA 22102
Phone: (877) 383-4802

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Public
Stock Symbol: COF
Stock Exchange: NYSE
Chairman, President, and CEO: Richard D. Fairbank
2009 Employees (All Locations): 52,000

Major Office Locations

Richmond, VA
New York, NY
Plano, TX
Wilmington, DE
Chicago, IL /
San Francisco, CA
London, UK
Toronto, ON Canada

Major Departments & Practices

Business Banking
Commercial Banking
Data Science
Information Technology
People & Workplace
Personal Banking
Product Management
Project/Process Management
Risk Management & Audit
Technology Operations
Vendor Management