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SITTU Group’s Bardya Ziaian on his Entrepreneurial Journey in the World of Finance

Bardya Ziaian is a Toronto-based entrepreneur with a track record of founding successful companies and creating jobs in the fields of fintech, brokerage services, and financial systems. Currently, Bardya Ziaian is the CEO and president of SITTU Group Inc., a think tank that works to create opportunities responsive to evolving economic environments.

Q: Thanks for joining us today Bardya. Can you tell us a bit about how you got your start as an entrepreneur?

BARDYA ZIAIAN: Sure, thanks for having me. I grew up as a math kid, just learning proofs and equations and finding definitive answers for things. I got a Bachelors and then a Masters in Mathematics, both from York here in Toronto. And the first job I got out of University was designing software engines for trading equities. I became familiar with the intricacies of trading and how to find success, and within a few years, I was working for a hedge fund managing multi-strategy books. I took that experience and founded a company called Virtual Brokers, with the goal of reducing commissions to virtually zero. We had a lot of success with that brokerage, being named the #1 discount broker by the Globe and Mail multiple times.

Q: So from a math kid to the founder of a successful brokerage. Got it! What happened with Virtual Brokers?

BARDYA ZIAIAN: We accepted an incredible offer from CI Financial in 2017. That gave us the means to form our current venture, Sittu Group, which is a think tank designed to consult with companies and invest in early-stage business ideas. The idea is to build exceptional teams and work together to problem-solve around business solutions. Our name, “Sittu”, is a Chinese term referring to ‘thinking while moving forward’. We have a philosophy that every business is capable of fulfilling the potential and vision of the people who build it, and we want to maximize that potential and foster the agility to anticipate a dynamic marketplace.

Q: What would you say are the most important qualities in a successful entrepreneur?

BARDYA ZIAIAN: I think it’s more of a mindset to be willing to take calculated risks. To have faith in the work that you’ve done, the homework and the due diligence, and to be willing to take the chance and try something new. You have to be willing to invest in yourself, because in the end, you’re all you’ve got, right? You have to take the advantages that are available to you. There’s a great Benjamin Graham quote that I use, which says that “a person who is too fearful will end up performing defensively and fail to seize offensive advantages.” You have to conquer the fear, have faith in yourself and trust the vision.

Q: What are some challenges you foresee coming within the financial industry?

BARDYA ZIAIAN: For me, I’ve worked with fintech applications for a number of years, and I’m hyper-aware of their potential to completely change the industry. We’re still nowhere near where we’ll eventually be, as far as everyday people having access to all of these tools that were formerly only available to the most high-qualified advisors. It’s going to confuse a lot of people, shake up a lot of relationships and business models. But I think that very soon, the situation will shake out in a way that makes everyone realize the importance of having a true investment advisor. Investing can never be just a hobby – it’s a profession. Just because the tools are democratized does not mean the practitioners will not have huge differences in their capabilities of using them. So we’re going to see a lot of waves with AI, with fintech applications, but we’ll have to ride them out and continue to find the best solutions.

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