Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals

Meet some of our CIRPs > Emmanuel Phaneuf

Emmanuel Phaneuf

Emmanuel Phaneuf, M.Sc., CIRP, LIT
Partner, Recovery and Reorganization
Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton
Montreal, Quebec

Emmanuel Phaneuf was finishing his thesis for his M.Sc. in Finance when a friend referred him for an entry-level job in the restructuring field.

“I had no idea what the industry was,” he says. “But I was looking for a job that matched my academic path and my interest in finance and law, and this seemed to fit.”

He joined Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton in June 2000 and spent the first few months familiarizing himself with the job. At first, he told himself it would be a summer posting and he’d get something else in the fall. By September, he knew he wasn’t going anywhere.

Emmanuel had been working towards a Chartered Financial Analyst designation, but set it aside to focus on becoming an insolvency and restructuring professional. He earned both a CIRP and LIT in 2005.

Now a partner, he’s been a member of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton’s Recovery and Reorganization Group for 21 years. His expertise includes complex insolvencies, fraud and financial sector cases. He’s also among the first trustees working on complicated cases involving blockchain transactions and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

“It’s a job that’s intellectually challenging and you need to think fast, adapt and learn about new industries – today it may be cryptocurrencies, tomorrow it will be something else,” he says. “But it’s not just the job; it’s the people. I’ve met many inspiring people and have a network of colleagues, lawyers, bankers and other professionals. You don’t always have the same client but you often collaborate with the same people.”

Emmanuel added to his network and knowledge during a secondment with Grant Thornton’s office in London, England in 2009 and 2010. “Our countries deal with different regulations, but restructuring is basically the same,” he says. “It was a learning experience to see how they manage cases, and it’s always helpful to build connections.”

Emmanuel has been giving back to the industry since saying “yes” when CAIRP was looking for a volunteer. He’s been deeply involved in CAIRP’s educational program, chairing the drafting committee for the CIRP National Insolvency Exam in 2010, 2011 and 2015. He’s acted as an exam marker and chief examiner, and has spoken at the tutorial to help candidates prepare for the exam each year since 2016. He joined CAIRP’s Board of Directors in 2019, is a member of the Corporate Practice Committee and has been on the Oversight Committee.

“Once I started volunteering, I found I enjoyed it,” he says. “I also learned a lot, especially going through the Act each year to get ready for the exam, because it’s very focused on new rules you need to know.”

He’s also had public speaking opportunities at annual and provincial conferences, with financial institutions and even in front of judges of the Superior Court of Quebec. The experiences have been both learning opportunities and a way to show his expertise.

Emmanuel recommends the industry for people who like working out the answers to challenges, learning different things every day and helping people and companies.

“It’s not always easy, but if you remain calm and do the job to the best of your ability, it’s rewarding when you are able to help debtors keep their business or creditors save money,” he says.

He adds, “You don’t need to be a CPA or have a law degree to get through the exams, but if you want to be the best, you have to spend time getting deep into case law. You have to work hard to build your knowledge, analytical skills and experience. It takes time, so don’t give up.”