In a Nutshell: Capitol Bank has served Wisconsin’s capital city of Madison and its surrounding area for 25 years. The institution was built on relationship-based banking and a longstanding commitment to financial and volunteer support for local causes. Today, Capitol Bank is stepping up with creative new ways to ensure financial security during challenging times as life and work patterns adjust to the new normal. And the bank goes above and beyond to help essential workers and area businesses weather the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Southern Wisconsin’s Capitol Bank celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2020. The Capitol Bank team anticipated holding a gathering to mark a quarter-century of customer-focused banking and helping local communities thrive.
Before the celebration could get underway, life hit the pause button. The state of Wisconsin instituted safer-at-home and social distancing policies and guidelines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. That meant the bank’s birthday was put on hold.
But Capitol Bank’s pledge to service has only gotten stronger in the wake of the coronavirus. Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Ami Myrland said the pandemic spurred the bank to innovate in ways that will endure long after the virus is under control.
The team pulled together to find new ways to interact remotely while operating its branches in Madison and nearby Verona. The bank also successfully leveraged its digital assets to assist customers while becoming the go-to local financial institution for dispensing federal support to area businesses.
Capitol Bank compensated for the temporary loss of access to traditional community support structures by developing new ways to help essential workers and local entrepreneurs.
“We’ve been able to strengthen our relationships with our customers and communities,” Myrland said. “When people are in a time of need or when the economy is down, we’ve always taken pride in being a strong institution that can come in and help.”
Financial and Volunteer Contributions Assist Dozens of Area Nonprofits
Capitol Bank holds more than $400 million in assets and embodies the community bank mission of local reinvestment and serving neighbors in need. Part of the strength of that commitment comes from continuity in the bank’s staff.
“We have employees who have worked here the entire time we’ve been in business,” Myrland said. “And out of our 59 employees, we’re now represented on a total of 35 local and regional nonprofit boards.”
Capitol Bank encourages its team to support a wide range of local charities, with the bank granting eight annual hours of volunteer time to every employee and actively encouraging additional time away from the office.
“We want people to support their passions,” Myrland said. “But at the same time, if we’ve already got two people involved in a nonprofit, maybe we’ll ask somebody to choose a different one so we can reach more people.”
Capitol Bank routinely gives direct financial support to organizations from the United Way and Habitat for Humanity to many locally based groups.
“It’s a really big piece of who we are,” Myrland said. “We’ve had two people who have been named Person of the Year by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the bank has been supportive of that. We’ve also maintained an employee on the board at the University of Wisconsin’s American Family Children’s Hospital and have also been supportive of the area’s Agrace Hospice.”
According to Myrland, who has more than 15 years of banking experience, that type of commitment is rare.
“I worked for other banks before coming to Capitol, and they didn’t have our same level of focus,” she said. “It’s a unique thing we do here.”
Supporting Local Businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program
The bank’s customer and community relationships continue amid the economic dislocation caused by the pandemic. But Capitol Bank has also stepped up to deliver on behalf of local businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) administers the PPP and extends loans to help businesses keep their workforces employed and contributing to the economy. Because the federal program puts the onus on individual banks to deliver funds and administer accounts on a timely basis, cities across the country have experienced varying levels of success with the program — depending on the effectiveness of available resources.
Commercial and individual clients in the Madison area have benefited from the Capitol Bank team’s commitment to quickly and efficiently deliver PPP support.
“Obviously, paycheck protection has been a huge focus for us over the last few months,” Myrland said. “We had a lot of customers that came forward and wanted those loans, and we were able to serve everyone promptly.”
Under PPP, businesses with fewer than 500 employees can receive low interest rate loans to cover the cost of payroll, rent, utilities, and other day-to-day expenses. Immediate repayment is deferred, and when funds are expended, companies can then go forward and apply for forgiveness on the entire amount of the loan.
The situation has been urgent, and the challenge intensified because the SBA made several significant changes to the program over its brief existence. But Capitol Bank came through for people around Madison.
“We’ve gotten really positive feedback from our customers,” Myrland said. “We had a great team that pulled together very quickly and worked around the clock to put a process in place and serve people.”
Capitol Bank: Creative Solutions to Modern Challenges
Capitol Bank continues to search for ways to increase its community commitment — even while all hands have been on deck to deliver on its PPP responsibilities.
Since March, a Coronavirus Relief Program has been in place to take some of the financial pressure off Capitol Bank’s customers. The bank protects customer accounts through IT monitoring and direct observations as financial fraud is on the rise during the social disruption caused by the pandemic.
“Because we have such close relationships with our customers, if something looks odd, we see it right away, and we have those conversations,” Myrland said.
And while both Capitol Bank branches remain open, the bank also encourages people to handle things from home.
“We’ve seen big increases in getting our customers to use digital tools they may not have before,” Myrland said. “Covid-19 has just pushed us all over that hurdle.”
Meanwhile, small gestures in the community aren’t neglected. For example, Capitol Bank participates in a Power of Community Week sponsored by the Wisconsin Bankers Association. And in 2020, the bank had to get creative to make its presence felt.
“We decided to purchase lunch for nearly 200 employees at the nearby SSM Health Dean Medical Group clinic, using local restaurants so we could support them as well,” Myrland said. “It was a really positive experience all around.”
Arranging that win-win of helping essential workers with a free meal while supporting local restaurants is just part of what makes Capitol Bank, a Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, special. And when the bank finally gets the green light to hold that anniversary celebration, it’ll be that much more exciting.
“We definitely have a mindset of simply trying to do what we can,” Myrland said.