On the Future of Finance: a Q&A With Capital One Canada’s Patrick Ens
How did your career journey bring you to lead Capital One Canada and what values drive you as a leader?
My journey here has been a long and fulfilling one. I joined Capital One 15 years ago straight after graduating from Queen’s University. Prior to being appointed president earlier this year, I led the customer acquisitions and customer management groups, and had the opportunity to support many areas of the business, from credit and brand marketing to operations and customer engagement. As president, I’m responsible for the overall strategic direction and operations of the Canadian business—our goal is to help customers succeed with credit, and our products and services are designed with that in mind.
I strongly believe everyone brings unique strengths to the table and by making space for everyone to be heard, you’re maximizing your team to its fullest potential. As a leader, I recognize my privilege and believe it’s my responsibility to create equal opportunities for different perspectives to be heard; not to demand perfection but to support progress. When faced with challenging issues, I invite a broad group of people to share their perspectives to build consensus on key decisions. Their input provides me with better information and gives us all an opportunity to expand our thinking by learning from others.
What role can Canadian financial institutions play in fostering a more inclusive society during a period of immense social change?
The past 18 months have seen unprecedented upheaval in almost every facet of society. We are reckoning with incredibly challenging times, but the emerging social issues aren’t new. Whether relating to racial justice or public health, these issues have been thrust into the forefront. As a society, we’ve never been more aware of the experiences of marginalized groups, and we can no longer operate as if everyone is treated equally or has the same challenges.
As a financial institution, we have an incredible opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. We are here to help and reinforce our customers’ confidence regardless of where they are in their financial journey—and we must reimagine our customer relationships as an investment in their future. If we can empower people to know that they are not alone and that there are resources and people who can help them overcome their difficult circumstances, we can slowly build a more inclusive and equitable society for everyone.
At Capital One, diversity, inclusion and belonging are the cornerstones of our culture. Whether it’s through our business resource groups, training and development, or day-to-day work, everyone has an opportunity to get involved and make a difference for our associates, customers and community. We are also actively supporting educational technology initiatives through our partnerships with organizations, such as The Learning Partnership, a Canadian charity focused on developing and deploying innovative education to early learners. Our partnership last year enabled the Coding Quest program, which is the largest classroom-based coding program available to publicly funded schools across the country aimed at enriching STEM learning and preparing the workforce of the future.
What role can technology play in fostering financial inclusion?
The digital revolution has changed how we communicate, connect with people, shop, travel, manage our health—and our money. When we envision the future of banking, we don’t start with how banking works or what other banks are doing. We look at how technology is changing our lives. By leveraging real-time data and cutting-edge technology, our goal is to provide customers with new experiences that enable them to make better financial decisions, which also helps advance financial inclusion. We know a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the future of finance.
That’s one of the reasons why we created Quick Check, an online tool that allows Canadians to know which Capital One credit card they can be approved for without impacting their credit score. Quick Check has been used more than one million times in Canada, which we believe points to a strong need for people to take back some control in their financial lives.
What financial anxieties do you see being experienced by Canadians today and how is Capital One helping customers and employees overcome them?
We know that financial anxieties are at an all-time high. We also understand that not everyone faces the same challenges—people’s needs are different, and their circumstances change suddenly. One thing we have heard over and again is that the unprecedented uncertainty has been a major source of stress in people’s lives—the uncertainty about lockdowns, job security and finances. And stress can have a profound impact on our sense of control and decision-making. At Capital One, we have been focused on empowering Canadians to develop healthier financial habits—our goal is to increase our customers’ financial awareness, so they can make better decisions with their money, and overall take greater control of their lives.
As leaders, this time also demands bravery—we must rewrite the social contract with our workforce while keeping in mind that our employees have been through a lot in the past 18 months. Many are continuing to manage challenging physical and mental health struggles, as well as caregiving needs. As a leader, I welcome expressions of vulnerability both from our employees and customers. We are in it together and we will meet you no matter where you are in your life and financial journey—and we will help you succeed.
For more information on Capital One’s products and services, visit their Life and Credit page at creditblog.capitalone.ca