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Streamlining Document Processes With Digital Vaults With Clifton Schaller

Clifton Schaller

Clifton Schaller is the Chief Growth Officer at FutureVault, a market-leading provider of secure document exchange and digital vault solutions for the financial services and wealth management industry. With a background in corporate development, product management, and strategic partnerships, he is responsible for driving the intersection of top-line growth and product strategy.

Clifton holds an impressive professional background, having previously served at prominent organizations including Capital One, Morningstar, and Nitrogen Wealth (formerly Riskalyze). He is also an advisory board member for Smart KX, a rising startup.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Clifton Schaller shares how FutureVault helps people

  • The value of using a third-party vault for client documents and compliance

  • How FutureVault helps search and sort documents

  • Clifton’s insights on AI 

  • What does a chief growth officer do?

  • The value of personal development 

  • Career growth through confidence

  • Clifton talks about his leadership style 

In this episode…

In today's fast-paced business environment, efficiency is fundamental. As institutions, firms, and professionals continue navigating the new norm, digital vaults have emerged as a must-have technology for streamlining document-driven processes. These secure virtual storage solutions offer structure and security that traditional document storage cannot match.

Clifton Schaller, a notable figure in the emerging industry, says that digital vault technology can automate document-driven processes, reduce costs, and enhance client satisfaction. With secure access to critical information at their fingertips, institutions and professionals can make informed decisions faster, enabling them to stay ahead of the curve. He shares how they've built solutions designed to help the financial services industry keep its edge.

In this episode of The Customer Wins, Richard Walker sits down with Clifton Schaller, Chief Growth Officer at FutureVault, to discuss the value of the digital vault technology. Clifton shares how FutureVault helps people, the value of using a third-party vault for client documents and compliance, how they use AI for document analysis and insights in wealth management, and career growth through confidence. 

Resources Mentioned in this episode

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Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:02 

Welcome to The Customer Wins podcast where business leaders discuss their secrets and techniques for helping their customers succeed and in turn grow their business.

Richard Walker 0:16 

Hi, I'm Rich Walker, the host of The Customer Wins where I talk to business leaders about how they help their customers win, and how their focus on customer experience leads to growth. Some of our past guests have included Val Vest at Cambridge Investment Research, Jeff Schwantz of Advisor360┬░ and by Babu Sivadasan at Today I get to speak with Clifton Schaller, the chief growth Officer of FutureVault and today's episode is brought to you by Quik! the leader in enterprise forms processing. When your business relies upon processing forms, don't waste your team's valuable time reviewing the forms. Instead get Quik!, using our Form Xtract API, simply submit your completed forms and get back clean, context-rich data that is 99.9% accurate. Visit to get started. All right, I'm excited to talk to Cliff today. Clifton Schaller is the chief growth officer for FutureVault. He has a passion for customer-driven insights, striving to identify the biggest trends, pain points and opportunities for innovation across the entire financial service ecosystem, and then looking for the right people or technology best positioned to address them. With a background in corporate development, product management and strategic partnerships. Clifton is responsible for driving the intersection of top line growth and product strategy. He's also responsible for managing multiple departments and product lead growth. Clifton previously served in two key leadership roles at Capital One, Morningstar and Nitrogen Wealth, which we all know is Riskalyze Clifton also serves as an advisory board member for a rising startup Smart KX. Outside of work, Clifton enjoys tennis and squash courts watching the Chicago Cubs traveling to their family home in Italy with his wife, Stephanie Enza, their son and their Bernard doodle, Massimiliano. Clifton, welcome to The Customer Wins.

Clifton Schaller 2:03 

Thanks so much, super excited to be here and well on the pronunciation of our dog. We could also call them Massimo maybe a little easier.

Richard Walker 2:10 

Massimo, that would be easier. But I love the full name. That's awesome. Now, if you haven't heard this podcast before, I talked with business leaders about what they're doing to help their customers win, how they built and deliver a great customer experience and the challenges to growing their own company. Clifton, we want to understand your business a little better. How does your company help people.

Clifton Schaller 2:30 

Man, so many different ways to talk about that. But let me summarize briefly so we have a lot of time to talk about a lot of different topics here today. So FutureVault we really help both customers and home office and advisors win, so there's multi value streams taking place. And we help both customers. So our customers can be home office reps, they can be advisors, they can be family office, users, but also investors or what I call users investors, because we're all investors in some ways, with best-in-class technology, by capturing documents and data through a variety of different ways. So when you think about I like to use an example of whenever you've gone and gotten some advice, even if we don't want to use the financial vernacular, say legal advice and or accounting advice or tax advice. At some point in time, there's usually something exchanged between you and a professional, which we call trusted advisors, and yourself the investor or the user and in technology terminology. We go along the entire journey from start to finish from starting and opening the account to say legacy planning or wills and estates and trusts. We don't do the planning, we're not here to do any of that we're here to just take what is generated, whether it's handwritten, whether it's generated from a document, system, or third party vendor, bring it into a vault, I mean, the word FutureVault you can think of a vault similar to like the old banker boxes, I'm old enough to remember what those look like, and all of your stuff's stored there. So we really help customers win by having what we call client clarity. Knowing that all of my information is stored here and to your let's call it trusted advisor. In our case, it's usually a family office or a wealth manager, financial planner, all of your clients records all of your clients. touch points are stored in one place where we can X-ray through all of this documents either to find something quickly for compliance purposes, help you specialize, personalize your next touch point with your end investor or for home office. really capture compliance capture what should and shouldn't be there. So we really do add a lot of value and help people when throughout the journey in multiple different ways, and that's to our best-in-class technology.

Richard Walker 4:50 

Okay, so I got a few questions about this. You use the word X-ray, which may be a clue as to an answer to my next question. Why do we need a vault a third-party system if we already have, I don't know, OneDrive or Dropbox or Why isn't that good enough?

Clifton Schaller 5:06 

So what we tend to say is that we're much more bespoke in a lot of ways. And when I say bespoke, I mean that from an integration perspective, who were able to work with what we're able to provide you as a home office, we're able to white label and improve your service model to your end clients, by giving you a bespoke experience. So, yes, there are the share files, the drop boxes, the boxes of the world, our service model, I think, is very highly tailored to the family office and the wealth manager, but well, so we have a very easy way to understand costs where we're SaaS company. It's not based on transaction of back and forth, documents going back and forth. So as you grow, we can grow with you. And we try to take the complex pricing packaging out of the way of you have unlimited vaults, you have unlimited customers unlimited households, we're here to really service the end customer, but through the advisor and the home office, or in some cases, the family offices as well. So again, much more integrated technology to help reps say like, look, I don't use Salesforce, when we use a wealth box or a red tail, you're not going to get that out of a drop box. So we're a little bit more bespoke in that way. So we can really help people solve for exact needs very quickly, as well, we can move quite quick and setting something up bespoke for all of our clients.

Richard Walker 6:27 

I also have to imagine because your focus in the service capacity of our industry, you understand the security needs probably the best, right? But go back to this word X-ray, does this mean that you guys can look for documents, understand content in the documents and find them better?

Clifton Schaller 6:42 

Yeah, so I'm talking to an expert here as well. So I'll be careful with my language, because I'm not the form expert, per se, from my background, but I've learned a lot in a short amount of time. When I say X-ray, I think more about I'm an RIA, I've got 100 advisors who work for my firm, and I've got say 1000 clients or households, I'm able to really look and find out, who has a document that doesn't belong in what we want, like we've got as a statement or a certain type of document from a compliance purpose. We don't want to know that information, we can flag for that. If I'm doing onboarding of a client, having a checklist actually dropped down to make sure they've gone through every single step necessary for say, a wirehouse or a bank. And then back to the RIA use case, let's say I can look across my practice and understand how many households do we have? How many of them have a dependent, how many of them don't have a 529 plan. So we can really work by an area off of either financial plan or say 529 plan exists doesn't exist. If not, we can flag that up. And all of this is bespoke for the home office, going back to why not ShareFile or Dropbox, we can really help firms personalize and spend much less time searching and sorting finding, I know the compliance piece is massive. To me, that's table stakes. You've got to be compliant where sock two type two compliant. Absolutely GDPR in Europe, so we're fully covered there. I look at the service model, and I'm an advisor, how are you helping me day to day to day, improve the quality of advice to my investors, or clients? So that's the win, and then also to the home office providing best-in-class oversight on the insights and analytics based on the data that you've brought into the system. Yeah, so there's a lot at play there. That's kind of the where we are today. As a company, we've been around for about seven years, plus or minus. And then also, where are we headed? We're headed much more in that X-ray space to really drive home advisory-driven or home office-driven insights and analytics to help you make more informed real-time decisions based on your needs of a practice and your clients.

Richard Walker 8:52 

Yeah, so a couple of things. I love the name having vault in it. Because when I work with somebody, I really want to make sure I'm giving them information that's secure and stored well. So I like that aspect of it. The second thing you're talking about the future. I mean, one of my favorite questions to ask is what do you think the impact of AI is going to be on your business? And as I recall talking to you a month ago or something, it seemed like you guys are going down that path with AI to help create insights out of documents and action items to help advisors interact and engage their clients more. Is that fair?

Clifton Schaller 9:22 

Yeah, that is fair. And you know, I'm very careful with the word AI because it can mean a lot of different things. And you hear it so much now that you know, I tend to be very cognizant and also conservative with what I share because I don't necessarily want to use a buzzword unless for driving impact. So for us, I think exactly what you just shared and it was great seeing you obviously in person and been able to look at the insights and analytics off of the document and make a suggested document we already have pioneered this. This is something we've already done. We've already created trademarks and patents on and suggested documentation. So we were already ahead of that in some ways, which is great to speed to market, we're able to add value a lot faster, because we're already thinking about this our founder, couple years ago. So now with the disruption of technology and the use cases of technology, we're highly in the middle. Right now I'm looking at ways we can continue to improve that service model, and insights and analytics for the adviser, the end user and the home office as well. So whether that means driving more leads, looking in and seeing like, hey, like, look, we're using marketing to drive, accelerate the amount of people who get in front of like, how can we help understand the insights and analytics off of the current customer base you have, and then help that tailor with another vendor? Hey, we know what your customer book looks like, we can drive insights based on characteristics and or attributes inside the documents that should then be helpful to help drive more personalized, streamlined marketing, to go find customers that really are in your niche or in your wheelhouse. And this also impacts planning too, right, so I know that there's lots of vendors have bolts, they sit there they store their I like to use Rich, the storage facility example all the time, which is that, look, everyone's got a storage facility. In some ways, you got to store something, some don't. Some firms don't do that. But a lot of firms will store it for you. What if I told you and you walk into a storage facility? I could say, look, you're looking for something on an app on your phone, you can figure out which boxes add in where in your storage unit is it? And that's impactful for you the customer? But what if you have 10,000 storage units? Yeah, what if there is someone sleeping in the storage space? Or there's a bomb? Things that you can't keep track of due to scale, we're there to help the home office and the advisor identify what is and what isn't? And then what's the makeup of what's inside these doc? What's inside these vaults? My seen growth in certain types of say, wills or trusts, my seen insurance claims coming through we like what's, you know, giving those insights and analytics back to understand, how are we progressing? Are we hitting some of our company goals? That, to me is what I've been really brought into this company to do is to take my background and really an expertise and say, look, I understand the customer. And the customers are thinking about this all the time, how can we service to them in a meaningful way? So those are some things and AI, of course, will be a part of that discussion is just we're still in the works.

Richard Walker 9:23 

Yeah, you alluded to something I think is really important, as you think about artificial intelligence. And it's akin to something I heard a long time ago, when the .com bubble burst in the early 2000s. I was at UCLA and listening to a guy talk about it. And he said, the problem in the late 90s, early 2000s of the internet was everybody's going around saying what is your internet strategy? And he said, here's the problem with that the internet is a tool, it's like walking up to a carpenter and saying, what is your hammer strategy? Like that makes no sense. I'm gonna use the hammer hit a nail. I mean, like, what's the strategy of a tool? So we talked about artificial intelligence, I still think of it as just another tool set that helps us have an impact on your customer in the way that is better for them. Right? And it's not about I'm an AI company, or we have an AI product, it is, how am I really benefiting my customer doing that? So I'd like that you guys are thinking that way?

Clifton Schaller 12:27 

Yeah, I don't like the buzzword, right, like I am an operator at heart. And look, it's obviously a focus for obviously thinking about I mean, AI and this type of technology has been around for quite some time. This is not NET News, this isn't some new paradigm shift is taking place. It's more of just the adoption, the accessibility, I feel that's been spread across multiple verticals. So it's interesting to keep in touch with I tend to be a little bit more of, that's more the 20% of the portfolio of our product capabilities. I'm much more than driving insights and analytics that someone can say, what can you do for me today? Or what have you done for me lately, because at the end of the day, in a hard macroeconomic, let's call it cycle we're in when the cost of capital is high, and sales cycles extend, I tend to hear from folks that I need you to tell me what you can do for me now, right, like, talk to me more about the vault capabilities today than what you want to do in five years. So I'm hyper-focused on creating value for our current customers and our future customers based on the current roadmap that we've established and driving towards it. And obviously those things change and there's things that you know, alter that but for the most part, we have a pretty clean strategy of how we know we're going to win it's been tested back tested, we've had a lot of customer engagement on it, and AI is a part of it, but you're not going to hear me Rich be the guy that's gonna you know, put AI as a billboard behind my office and say, That's all I talked about.

Richard Walker 14:54 

Let's switch gears a little bit. What does a chief growth officer do? That's not a normal title for many companies. So how do you define your role? What is it?

Clifton Schaller 15:04 

Yeah, so my role is a little bit unique. And it's kind of a testament to my background, right, getting a lot of the skill set and in advantages that I've got across my career. So growth typically comes from sales and marketing. Right? So you're growing a company on the top line, I'm a big believer Rich in product lead growth, I think that at the end of the day, technology today is so much more faster and nimble than it was, say, 15 years ago, even five years ago, you've got to have a really sound product, right. And I'm talking SaaS, specifically, right, that's the space I play in. So, I oversee our product team, customer success, our sales and work collaboratively with our CMO. But I'm here to drive the top line of the company in working to in a box of their CEO, our executive chairman, that in our board, to really help put together the roadmap for near term, short term and long term growth, and putting together the whole entire ecosystem of different ideas, risk management, partnerships, top line, just traditional sales. So I've got a lot of hands and a lot of pots, but it plays a lot to my advantages as an Executive leader, that's what I've been able to accomplish in my career, and seeing lots of different angles, from how to grow and different ideas flop. So taking a lot of that collective learning and trying to put the best case possible for a smaller company continue to grow. So typically, these roles are mainly sales, that's all you cover, or their goalie marketing, or maybe a blend of the both, but I have a lot more involvement in the day to day and strategic element on our product side, which is helpful, because at the end of the day, if you're selling a product, and the product organization is very disconnected from the sales and marketing organization, which tends to happen a lot. We've got problems, we're selling stuff we don't have or are selling things that do not work or we don't understand the product. So if you're going to use a product, in our case, that's what we do. And I believe also in our industry, it's all SaaS driven for the most part, that to me is critical, you got to understand your customer, and you got to understand your product. And if your sales team and marketing department doesn't understand just as good as the product, a level of disconnect there because they don't want our sellers to be so involved in the roadmap. But I do want our sales team to know specifically, what value does this add? Why does someone need this? Right? So deeper than just a SWOT analysis or talk track for sales and pitch decks? Like, I want you to know, how does this thing function A to B? What are those gaps? Who are our partners who can help fill those gaps, etc. So my role is unique, but it's extremely beneficial to our company, because it crosses the background that I've been able to accomplish in my career. So they're getting a lot out of me, I guess you could say.

Richard Walker 17:51 

I love it, I actually think I want to adopt your title. Because I love product driven. I mean, customer centric and product lead growth makes so much sense to me. And honestly, that is how we've been building our company, we always think about how does a customer work? How do they interact with technology? What would benefit their process their workflow? Sales is kind of the last thing I think about. I mean, I think of the prospect, I think of how well it could grow and how big of a market opportunity there is for a given product. I mean, we're not just going to invest for the sake of investing. But I do like that idea. Okay, let me ask you a slightly different question. Because the word growth implies a lot of different things. For those who are listening to this, they can't see that you are surrounded by books. Yeah. How much personal growth have you gone through how many of those books are about you?

Clifton Schaller 18:38 

Ah, look, I love to read, it's in my office, my wife, we're set to go in there, I couldn't have a library somewhere. And our son took another room. So the library became the office in some ways, but a lot of the growth that I have picked up from this from people, I'm a very relational person. And whether it's in my own family or people that I've worked with, it's also through listening, right? So that can come in a lot of different forms. I run and cycle a lot. So I listen to a lot while I'm doing that, but also read a lot and obviously behind me, so I split my time between non work related work, I have to take a break and check out and read stuff that I have other interests in. But then I also spent a lot of time reading about others that have, you know, made an impact or have done really incredible in their career, and how do they do it and try to dissect and look through what that is, and see how much of that's relative to my exposure and my potential impact and how much of it's just straight for learning, like, wow, it's a really great story. It's incredible that you've been able to do that many private equity deals in the course of a year. Like that's incredible, the scale and just the amount of time. So I'm a Constant Learner is a testament to my career of learning and listening to a lot of different people a lot of than on your podcast that I've either intersected with or have been able to collaborate with from a partnership perspective. So I'm a sponge. I like to listen and learn from a lot of different people and it can come From a book or from person-to-person interactions, or just listening along as I logged miles on my bike.

Richard Walker 18:52 

I think there's a lot to this. And if anybody went to your LinkedIn and looked at your profile, not only have you worked for really amazing companies, but you've had incredible titles and roles of these companies. And it's like, how did you get there? You've accelerated your career? And I have to imagine this because you have this attitude of you want to learn and you're a sponge to that learning. Do you have? Sorry? Do you have a favorite book that you love to recommend to people? And you could be different by circumstance, but I'm just curious what your favorites are that you kind of think through?

Clifton Schaller 20:38 

Yeah, books wise. I mean Robert Greene, I think he's right behind me here. 48 Laws of Power. His books have been incredible. I was a history major. When I started my college career, I thought I was gonna become an attorney become a judge. That did not happen. We went a different direction there. But I tend to be very big into economics, macro micro. I'm an econ degree from when it's going to Italy. So it's just in my nature and training to be very macro-micro thinking, I think all the time about capital markets, the cost of capital inflation rate, how that impacts everything around us. But I don't tend to read about it all the time, because it can be pretty dry. But Robert Greene has had a massive amount of impact on me. I love his writing style. The art of Mastery, I think book is called right behind me here. Yeah, it's just called Mastery. Really good book. And then also just classics. I mean, this section over here is all classic-driven books. So I'm still reading Crime And Punishment by Dostoyevsky. And that's a thick read, heavy reading, but just the impact it has on the mind and human nature i i kind of wide in, in out kind of reading where I do stuff that's very specific to work. And then Ray Dalio, for example, another great author that I love to read. But then I also go outside of work.

Richard Walker 22:02 

I read Ray Dalio, his book, The principles of Changing New World Order. totally fascinating. totally fascinating view of the world.

Clifton Schaller 22:10 

Yeah, that's right down here. Yeah. Great book.

Richard Walker 22:12 

Yeah, for sure. No, I think that's incredible. And it's something I missed out on, because frankly, I don't like to read. It's, it's kind of funny, I always have two brain processes running at the same time. And reading is hard for me. So I have to listen to music in order to focus on the reading. And even that doesn't always work. So I love audiobooks, because I can drive my car and listen to the audiobook and learn that way. And once I got into audiobooks, oh, my gosh, I was devouring. I was just getting as much as I could, it was just so amazing. So I want to ask you something Clifton, because I've noticed this personally, the more I've read, and the more personal development I've done, the faster my company has grown up. Have you had similar experiences in your career? Do you think you can correlate to that?

Clifton Schaller 22:57 

Yes, and no, I think there is a little bit of luck involves being at the right place at the right time and having the right discussion when something happens, I feel but I think reading to me has been the escape, in some ways to like when I'm not working, and I'm not chugging it 150% at work, it helps me kind of well round the gaps that are not getting through work. So, spending time in corporate development activities, your heads down on a run in a process with a potential target, how can I read something that's not a part of our company somewhere else to see how they did somebody and maybe in a completely different, total addressable market or vertical. So I tend to read to try to skill up and try to read, fill in some of the weaknesses of exposure and knowledge because I'm not an investment banker, right, I didn't go to school for finance. So I'm very realistic, Rich with my skills and my strengths and weaknesses. And then I've heard from great people in my career, just focus on your strengths, just go do what you're great at. And that's the best way to add value. For other people say, look, operator, you got a lot of tools around the tool belt, go get stronger the things you're weakened so that you can be a well-rounded Swiss army knife. So I tend to do both, I have some things that are right in my fairway that I love doing and add a tremendous amount of value to our customers, my colleagues, our industry, there's some other areas that I feel like if I can get stronger and better at this man, like my the impact I can make for our customers, the amount of impact I can make for our shareholders or to our board members, to my colleagues, right. So I'm a very in-the-locker room guy, like I am all about the team we have, the team we need, what are we focused on and now I'm fortunate enough to be able to have a lot more impact in my career on setting what we want to do inside the locker room or putting the plays on the chalkboard and saying this is what we're here to do and then really making that become realized on the field. So, I love looking at stuff, but go back to your question quickly is I tend to read things to help me understand and empathize, using, like, being an executive now, like, what is all that entail for the first time, right? Reading books about people when it was their first time? Becoming an executive, what does that mean? What are your responsibilities? What are the things that wish you would have done differently? So I tend to use books as the gap filler.

Richard Walker 25:20 

Yeah, yeah, I love that. I love that. I was I was watching just a clip of an interview from former IBM CEO, a female her name is Jenny, I forgot her last name. And she was talking about her interview to become the executive. And she went into this, and they offered her the job. And she says, okay, let me go talk to my husband about it. And the interviewer was like, okay, sure. She went and talked to her husband, they had a great conversation, her husband came back said, you're gonna do this, go accept the job. And then her husband said, by the way, how do you think a man would have answered that interview question about do you want the job or not? And she's like, he would have taken it. He's like, yeah, of course, they would have just accepted it, and then figured it out on the end. So she went back and accepted the job, and the interviewer who she is known, right, she's friends with this person, but the interviewer is like, don't ever do that again. And the point was, don't let your confidence down, you're gonna move forward with confidence. That's how you're going to move forward the best way. So I agree with you. I mean, finding out from others, what they're doing, really, really helps you move forward in your own career, as well as your own development, your own sense of confidence. That's great. I think that's an awesome use for books

Clifton Schaller 26:31 

Let me add just one more to that, because there's one that I've kind of realized that feel like in the last year, I used to have this way of thinking and kind of mental model in my brain throughout my career that I kind of felt like I was always, when you go through it a tremendous amount of growth in a short amount of time, there's a little bit of doubt or fear of like, Am I doing the right things? Am I doing it the right way? Am I the right person? Right? That is natural. I feel like for most people, not all people, but most people definitely for me. And for a while I kind of felt like, and this is tough, I'm not an investment banker, I didn't go to school for finance, this is not my thing, right. But I've come now to the realization that, I actually have flipped that coin, which is that when I'm in a room, and the only people in the room are investment bankers, or milling the room with product people, if you've only done one slice of your career in one space, your vernacular or your translation of knee, and so customers find it, your filter is extremely different. It's actually flipped that Rich to say, I've done a lot of different things that you mean, my LinkedIn, as you said, there is a great example of that, in the roles that I've had is the example that it used to hear like, what is this guy doing in the room? Right? This is a private equity deal. What are you doing here? So I've now flipped that to say, no, I know why I'm here. And I know exactly what's going to happen here. Because I've done my homework. And I've actually done the roles, right. So going back to the confidence point is that it used to be a challenge and tough has always felt like, am I playing the right position here? Am I doing the right stuff, and then it's now become like, oh, I'm a center on the ice, or I can play in the middle of the field, I can play offense defensive, I can block the goals, etc. So, having a lot of that skill set and competence at the end of the day now is being felt through everything that I'm doing. Because you've been around the block, or you played a lot of positions on the field, however you want to use the analogy. So I encourage folks now, rather than just looking at myself, I'm a very big believer of servant leadership, looking to others and saying, if you're not comfortable, or you don't like doing what you're doing, what would you do. And if it's something completely different, like, hey, I build product, I'm a technical product manager. But I actually like FPNA, I hold myself to a standard to say, I will help you get there, right? Like, we will figure out a way maybe it's not here, maybe it's somewhere else, maybe it is going to become here. I want people to be fired up every day to come to work, and be rowing towards the same direction towards the mission, vision OKRs, whatever you want to use, because I think that one person can add a lot of impact, obviously. But if you can get 10, 20, hundreds 1000s of people to row in the same direction and stay on course, to me, that's a harder skill set to master but it's one of the most impactful skill sets to master is really just staying on goal and staying on task when to say no, and really being aligned to a collective vision, mission or goal or objective. So I've spent a lot more of my time saying I've done a lot of different things. I have a very unique skill set the skill set, it's extremely valuable to our industry. And rather than being someone where it's inward, it's much more outward of how can I use my skill set my translation, my filter, help everyone else around me to get to where we want to go. So it's been a journey.

Richard Walker 29:57 

Yeah, of course. And I love what you're saying here because I'm gonna say it in a slightly different way, what you've done is you've come to clarity on who you are and what your gifts are. And you've established confidence in those abilities. And it has nothing to do with what other people can do or can't do. It has nothing to do with what you can't do. It has everything to do with what you know, you can do best. And just as a case in point, one of my best skills is pattern recognition. And what allowed me to become a software developer, I mean, I got my degree in finance, I taught myself software, so I could build Quik!. And what allowed me to do that was that I was good at seeing the pattern of software development. Don't ask me how it worked. Don't ask me to write it from scratch, I could copy other people's stuff and modify it to my needs, and then figure it out and make it work. I was watching my son last night, I bought him one of those word search puzzles where you circled the words. And he was like, let's do it together that I'll do a word you do a word. And so he would choose a word. And these words are anywhere from three to even 10 characters long. And so he would choose a word and then say, dad, go do this, I found the word like this, I mean, it would backwards upside down, I found it like this, because it's one of my favorite things. And then I watched him do it. And he found it, maybe a second after I would have, he's only eight. He's actually very fast at this. So I think pattern recognition is one of his strengths. But when you come to a meeting, where you've got this diverse group of people or different perspectives, and your skill set, mine in particular is pattern recognition, then you can apply that and lead the team forward towards the goal that you're trying to get. And then let the other people be empowered to bring their skills to the table to fill in the gaps that you don't have, like the better software developer for me.

Clifton Schaller 31:37 

150% I think also too, it's, it's a matter of respect from your colleagues, right? Like knowing that you've done something. And I call it the trenches, like you've been in the trenches where the team's at. It shows people that you're not someone that leads just from the front, you're willing to read lead from the rear, you're willing to lead from the field, like you're willing to really put others in a position to win. But you've done it before. And I think that's something that, at the beginning of my career, it was much more of the what are you doing here, like, you're not one of us, or you don't really understand our language. And rather than just, conflict, and then saying, I'm out or this isn't really a good fit for me, I stopped and listened and said, well, what is the language? How do you do things and very inquisitive. And I've said this a lot, I've an operator mindset of where I can land anywhere, right, I can jump out of a plane land on the ground, and I know I'm gonna be okay. Like, I've gotten the skills and the, in the battle scars to show hard and tough stuff for big companies and small companies. So to me, at the end of the day, I'm trying to add as much value first and foremost, to our customers, to my team, right? And then to our board members and shareholders, right? Like, I'm very clear that is outward, not inward, right? I'm just one guy and a part of a team. And I'm here to add as much value as possible. And it might be different than when I first started. But I'm okay with that. If that's what the company needs to help toe the line and get to where we want to go like operator mindset, like let's do it.

Richard Walker 33:08 

I love these conversations. And I don't like ending my podcast, because I want to just keep talking about it. But we do have to wrap up here. And before I do ask you my last question, what's the best way for people to find and connect with you?

Clifton Schaller 33:20 

Yeah, LinkedIn, on LinkedIn all the time, just by first and last name. Shoot me a note on LinkedIn. I'd love to chat. That's the best way to get in touch with me. I'm not on Twitter or anything like that.

Richard Walker 33:31 

Awesome. Okay. Yeah, I am on Twitter, but I don't respond to Twitter. All right, so here's my last question. Who has had the biggest impact on your leadership style? Or even just how you approach your role?

Clifton Schaller 33:43 

Oh, man, that's a great question. And I'm gonna put aside like the family, just because family's incredibly important to myself, and my own family. So my mother, my grandfather's come to mind, obviously, first and foremost, but some of the comes to mind like in our industry that's had a tremendous amount of impact on me as Peter Franco. Peter Franco, and I work together at Morningstar for a number of years. Now, he's over at And he's running product over there with that group, and we're great friends, and still keep in touch. But he really taught me kind of when going back to going through that phase of growth, struggle, etc. He was the person in my career that was there the most to kind of really give me a second opinion about my own biases or my own frustrations. I mean, he's kind of the reason I got into product management, which is kind of the turnaround out of where I kind of started my career and now where I'm at today. So, Peter Franco comes to mind first, the other two that I'll quickly mention James of Clam Rock, also another good friend, also from Morningstar, as the General Manager, basically of an entire business unit. He showed me how to lead, leading a large group of people and do it in a servant way. I still keep in touch with him. He still inspires me to this day. And then last but not least, Dan Becker, Ella and other Morningstar alumni and he taught me as my manager at the time, the value of treating people like people, and treating people as a human being and not a resource or an FTE or a number on an Excel spreadsheet, but really get to know the person and build a relationships can help them wherever it goes. So he's had a lot of impact on me as well. It's ironic that all from Morningstar, but when you spend a lot of time there, you tend to grow a big family. So those are the three that come to mind.

Richard Walker 35:27 

I love that I love that that reminds me of my days at Arthur Andersen in the 90s, one of my best friends and I, we would get so frustrated with how the leaders would lead, their approach was to manage people. And lead resources were like nuts the other way around, you'd leave people in manage resources. And we get so frustrated with that. So it's a really nice lesson to hear from somebody else.

Clifton Schaller 35:52 

Yeah, we're human beings. So at the end of the day, I try to cut through all that and just say, like, look, I'm here to help you as a person first, and, you know, build that trust and relationship. And then you know, that doesn't mean there's not tough times at work, or people have to be let go, or you have to make a change. But at the end of the day, I try to advocate for the people around me, because I want people to buy in, right? And it's very hard to get people to buy in and hit an objective when they don't really trust or appreciate their manager. So I lead by example, as much as I can.

Richard Walker 36:24 

Yeah, for sure it's apparent. And you just made me realize something that The Customer Wins when you help people. That's really what it's about. It's when you treat them like people and seek to help them in the best way possible. That is when you end up helping your customers win the most. That's a good question. All right, I want to give a huge thank you to Clifton Schaller, Chief growth Officer of FutureVault for being on this episode of The Customer Wins. Go check out their website at And don't forget to check out Quik at where we make processing forms easier. I hope you've enjoyed this discussion, will click the like button, share this with someone and subscribe to our channels for future episodes of The Customer Wins. Clifton, thank you so much for joining me today.

Clifton Schaller 37:10 

Thanks so much. I'll say challenge over here, Dan.

Outro 37:13 

Thanks for listening to The Customer Wins podcast. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.


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