IAM760- Financial Planner Specializes in Self-directed Retirement Accounts

Podcast Interview with Dmitriy Fomichenko

Dmitriy Fomichenko is the founder and president of Sense Financial Services LLC, a boutique financial firm specializing in self-directed retirement accounts with checkbook control. He began his career in financial planning and real estate investing in 2000. He owns multiple investment properties in various states and is a licensed California Real Estate Broker. Over the years, he has taught hundreds of investment and financial planning seminars and has mentored thousands of investors.

  • CEO Hack: Book – Business By The Book by Larry Burkett
  • CEO Nugget: Let go and learn to delegate
  • CEO Defined: Servant leader to the clients and the team




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[00:00:02.20] – Intro

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkers values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

[00:00:30.30] – Gresham Harkless

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I Am CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Dmitry Fomenchenko of Sense Financial Services. Dmitry, it's awesome to have you on the show.

[00:00:41.89] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Gresham, thanks, for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

[00:00:45.79] – Gresham Harkless

The pleasure is definitely all mine. And before we jump in, I want to read a little bit more about Dmitry so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. Dimitri is the founder and president of Sense Financial Services LLC, a boutique financial firm specializing in self-directed retirement accounts with checkbook control. He began his career in financial planning and real estate investing in two thousand, and he owns multiple investment properties in various states and is a licensed California real estate broker. Over the years, he has taught hundreds of investment and financial planning seminars and has mentored thousands of investors. Dimitri, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

[00:01:23.90] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Yes. I sure do.

[00:01:25.59] – Gresham Harkless

Awesome. Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit here, a little bit more on what led you to get started. Could you take us through what I call your CEO story? What led you to get started with your business?

[00:01:36.09] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Yeah. So, I had the entrepreneurial spirit from, I think, childhood when I was I think about four teams, years old. I, actually started selling ice cream to vacationers who stopped at the train station. We had a major stop there. And, I did a few other things after that. And, so I moved into this country. As you can hear from my accent, I'm not from here. Originally, I'm from Russia, moved here in nineteen ninety-six. My background is in electromechanical engineering. I did that when I moved here, I translated my degree and worked for several years until I got laid up and was forced to do something else.

And I started in financial services and real estate investing. And then I moved. I got a full-time job working at a local real estate investment firm in Orange County. And because of my background and experience, I was given a task to start a department, within a company doing self-directed retirement accounts. And the reason because none of the companies, the custodians that we work with actually worked out. So, my past experience worked out. I guess I was at the right time at the right place. So I started this as a department, and about a year later, I ventured out on Leon.

[00:02:54.69] – Gresham Harkless

Nice. I absolutely love that, and I love selling ice cream from the very beginning to what you're doing now. It's so funny when sometimes you rewind the clock and look back in life and you see some of those traits and see how exactly you are where you are because you kinda pursued exactly what kinda spoke to you and was some degree kinda your destiny.

[00:03:13.80] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Yep. And, you know, just might be another thing to mention just

[00:03:16.69] – Gresham Harkless


[00:03:17.09] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

It benefits the communities, or somebody who's, looking to become, an entrepreneur or get, started in a business in the financial services industry. To be honest, that was a struggling experience for, what my wife and I started together. We were in the business together, and we struggled for several years. But looking back at that experience, I can say that that was a very valuable experience. Even though we struggled, financially, that was a very valuable experience that, really helped me catapult this business that stands financially, into where we are right now.

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[00:03:56.90] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. That's absolutely huge. I appreciate you for adding that on because I think so many times, especially around entrepreneurship and business, you get kinda like the glamorized version of business and entrepreneurship. Usually, you see people's I won't say necessarily always their finish line, but you don't kinda skip past that difficult part. But I think, running a business and and, of course, every aspect of being an entrepreneur, there are ups and downs. And I think there's not enough that's being said about kind of the struggles. And those struggles do make you stronger so that you're able to be successful, but you don't as much about sometimes the the challenges that come with being and running a business.

[00:04:32.50] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Yep. Indeed.

[00:04:34.19] – Gresham Harkless

Awesome. So I know I touched on it when I read your bio, and you did as well too on how you got started. Could you take us through exactly what SENSE Financial Services is and how exactly you serve the clients you work with?

[00:04:44.69] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Yeah. So what we do is kind of a niche, and most people are not even familiar with that. Some people probably thought about a self-directed IRA, an IRA that allows investments into alternative assets, not not like a, you know, Fidelity or Schwab or Merrill Lynch, but you can only invest in stocks and mutual funds, which, to be honest with you, you and I and most of our listeners don't have the control over the stock market. You know, we've we've seen what happened just at the beginning of the year. Few short. I have a small portfolio in the stock market, and it dropped thirty percent. I've seen in the last downturn about two thousand seven, two thousand eight, I talked to people who lost half of their portfolio that that were invested in the stock market.

So people are concerned about that. They're looking for alternative investments. But you cannot invest in alternatives with just a traditional retirement account. So you need a self-directed. Now what we do is we set up a self-directed retirement account, but our focus is checkbook control. The main sellers that we offer are a solo 04:01 k, and a truly self-directed solo 04:01 k. It is a retirement plan designed for those people who are self-employed or own a small business without full-time employees. Now, I'm just gonna share with you a few major benefits, and it's gonna blow you away. Number one, our contribution limits.

Compared to an IRA, which is, allows you to put six thousand dollars a year into that retirement account, solo 04:01 k allows you to put up to fifty-seven thousand dollars a year. So nearly ten times more. So if you're a husband and wife business, you can potentially shelter over a hundred thousand dollars of your income from taxes. Think about the bottom line that it's gonna do on your taxes, how much taxes you're gonna save. So that is a huge tax shelter. Obviously, you have to have a successful business and make money to take advantage of that. So that's one. Another one is that it gives you unlimited investment potential. So you can use this vehicle to invest in virtually anything. You can invest in many of my clients are real estate investors so they invest in real estate whether it's just a single-family rental or a large piece of large multifamily syndication a self-storage facility and so forth.

You can also invest in, precious metals. You can invest in, cryptocurrency and so far and and and so on. The list goes on. So there are only a couple of things that you cannot do. IRS describes that. Other than that you can invest in virtually anything. And last I'm going to mention is that or actually two I'm going to mention is ability to make rat contributions. You can contribute up to twenty-six thousand dollars into a rat's rat's sub-account, which is post-tax contributions that allow your money to grow tax-free. And then the next one is the ability to actually borrow from your retirement account up to fifty thousand dollars so you're creating your own bank that you can access at any time so it's a very very powerful vehicle.

[00:07:49.60] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely I appreciate you for bringing down all those kinds of benefits especially because I'm a big believer and I'm sure most people who are listening know how knowledge is empowering. Knowledge is power and to be able to understand and know about these different avenues and how you can make sure that you make your money, and build that successful business, but also keep that money in legal ways is a great way, to do that. So I appreciate you for kinda focusing on that and then providing that information to us as well. So I wanted to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce. And this could be for yourself personally or your business, but what do you feel kinda sets you apart and makes you unique?

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[00:08:26.80] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Well, I think what sets us apart and, basically, I kinda learned that it was a lifetime of learning. For For me, actually, being a client of other businesses, and other people, what I'm looking for is I wanna be treated well. I wanna have excellent service. So I created a culture in our company that we wanna provide the best possible client experience, and that's what sets us apart from the competition. You know, from the very beginning, we treat our clients with respect, and we basically wanna exceed their expectations. And we're not perfect. No one is. And we do make mistakes occasionally, but we learn from them just like I learned from my experience in the business. We're always trying to order looking for ways to improve our business model. And that's, I I think, what separates, us from the competition. And that's the advice I can give to any business owner, any c CEO. You know, focus on your clients.

[00:09:27.20] – Gresham Harkless

So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

[00:09:40.70] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

That's why you're talking about the book that helped me.

[00:09:43.70] – Gresham Harkless

Anything. A book. It could be a book or habit or even an app or something or software that you use.

[00:09:48.20] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Well, you know, the book comes to mind. I think it was really instrumental for me initially when I started the business, and I remember going with my wife on vacation to, the Caribbean, taking that book with me. It was just probably in the first year of the business, and it's called Business by the Book by Larry Burkett. And, it was a phenomenal book. I learned so much there. Some of the concept I was aware of, it was just a great reinforcement, but, basically, it is based on the Bible and all the principles that they are. I mean, the Bible has so much with it for life in, general and for business in particular, and also for financial planning or retirement planning. I use a lot of proverbs in just, how we operate our business and how we help our clients. But there is so much wisdom there, and that book summarizes it, and it was a great resource for me.

[00:10:46.79] – Gresham Harkless

Love that. So now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. So this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client, or if you were to happen to be a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

[00:10:59.29] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Well, you know, since, again, this is, your show focused on the CEOs, not so much on the clients. I think I have a a nugget that I can share with the leaders, to the c to the CEO community, And that will be learning to delegate. That was somewhat difficult for me because I like to be in control. And I'm a perfectionist. I like things to be done well, but you need to learn to let go. You need to learn to delegate because there are so many hours in a day, and you can only do so much. So you do wanna, to let go and delegate some of the tasks, and that's how you can be successful. Because you can actually find people who can do better than you. And, you can still kinda oversee things and be the leader that, you wanna be, but we want to delegate. So that's very important. That's when I finally was able to do that, which also made a significant impact on our business.

[00:12:00.60] – Gresham Harkless

Absolutely love that nugget. And so now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO, and we're hoping to have different quotes-unquote CEOs on this show. So, Dimitry, what does being a CEO mean to you?

[00:12:12.20] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Well, CEO means for me, it's being a servant leader. You know, I wanna serve our clients, and I wanna serve our team. I wanna make sure, that our team is comfortable. You know? For me, it's a family. My team is my extended family. And if you're a CEO, you wanna, treat your work team as a family as well as your clients as an extended family. So that's that's an idea that I can share.

[00:12:40.79] – Gresham Harkless

Nice. I absolutely love that. And I think that a lot of times when you drill down into why we do what we do, it's it's really to be of service. And I think when we remind ourselves of that, whether we're serving clients or obviously serving our teams and making sure that they're in the best place they can be to be successful. That's when you truly reach another level. That's really true when you quote, unquote CEO, entrepreneur, or business owner, really making a phenomenal impact. I truly appreciate that definition, Dimitri, and I appreciate your go-ahead.

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[00:13:08.00] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Just to maybe expand on that a little bit. When when you do when you do that, the result is you're gonna reap the results. You know? But your focus should be not, you know, your own well-being, but the well-being of others. And it's gonna be inevitable that you're gonna reap the rewards as a result of this.

[00:13:29.70] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. And I think the quote is, if you help enough people, get what they want, then you get what you want.

[00:13:36.60] – Dmitriy Fomichenko


[00:13:36.89] – Gresham Harkless

And I think when you have that servant mentality and you really are serving, you are helping people be successful, it creates that environment, that trickle-down effect, and you start to see that impact that you're truly having.

[00:13:48.39] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Yeah. I was just talking to somebody the other day about, a similar concept about how blessed we are to live in this country. Again, I'm an immigrant from the former Soviet Union. We had very, very limited opportunities there. I still like what I shared with you, I found a couple of different, business ventures there in in my early years, but, man, we live in this beautiful country with so many people and, you know, just an abundance of opportunities out there. There is just, you know, another might be a tip that I can share. Find the find the problem

[00:14:24.60] – Gresham Harkless


[00:14:24.89] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

And or, you know, and then figure out the solution for that. And you can build a business around that. Just help enough people get what they need or solve their problems, and rewards can be major.

[00:14:38.89] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. That is absolutely huge. And I love that you mentioned that, abundance, the abundant mindset, and understanding that there's no shortage of problems that they are to solve. And if you're able to solve those problems, then you build that business, you become an entrepreneur, you're starting to solve those problems. And because there's no shortage of problems, if we understand that, we know that there are always opportunities for us to continue to kinda create and build these solutions to help out so many people. So when you have that mentality, it really is, I think, a huge competitive advantage because it allows you to be able to understand there's always a way around whatever, you know, problem or solution that might come about.

[00:15:19.10] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Yep. Totally agree.

[00:15:21.00] – Gresham Harkless

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Dimitri, truly appreciate that again. And what I wanted to do was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know, and, of course, how best they can get a hold of you and find out about all those things that you're working on.

[00:15:34.79] – Dmitriy Fomichenko

Yeah. Yeah. We have a limited time here on the show, but, if anybody wants to get in touch with us or or with me directly, they can do so on our website, which is sense financial dot com. You can see it, behind me, there. But, SENSE is like common sense, s e n s e, financial dot com. There you can email us. You can complete a form, and, you can get a phone number. You can also connect with me on Facebook, and Twitter, and, would love to to make new connections.

[00:16:07.70] – Gresham Harkless

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, I truly appreciate that again, Dimitri. We will have the links and information in the show notes so that everybody can follow up with you as well. But I appreciate what you're doing and what you're reminding us of, and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

[00:16:20.10] – Outro

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


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