Kristofer Swanson

Charles River Associates

One South Wacker Drive, 34th Floor
60606, Chicago, USA

Peers and clients say:

"Kris is a tremendous intellect, exceptionally personable and easy to work with"
"He is diligent and highly responsive to clients"
"Kris is a leader in his field - very knowledgeable, well-respected, credible and with impeccable integrity"


Kris serves as the practice leader for CRA’s award-winning forensic services practice. He is particularly sought after to lead complex independent investigations – requiring deep industry knowledge, multiple technical competencies, thorny jurisdictional and ethical issues, and challenging reporting and disclosure obligations – and to testify on both economic damages and liability. From a geographic perspective, his assignments have extended to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America.

What motivated you to pursue a career in forensic accounting?

A career in forensics provides a unique and critically important opportunity to help clients reaffirm their commitment to integrity and to exquisite corporate governance. When we conclude that troubling allegations are substantiated, our findings enable the board to take timely and defensible actions. When we conclude that allegations arose through a misunderstanding, our findings allow for resolution and reconciliation. When we conclude that allegations were falsely and maliciously made, our work is typically the only effective way for a company or executive to get their reputations back.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I am so proud to see my colleagues grow and flourish, supported by a firm with a uniquely partnerial culture. We are excited to be building a team that is very special, and while we are excited about what we have done so far – including growing over the past six years to become the second largest practice in the firm worldwide – we know that our best days lie ahead!

How has your previous experience as head of PwC’s Midwest forensics practice enhanced your current work as a forensic accountant?

One of my responsibilities when serving as PwC’s forensic services midwest market leader was to conduct “shadow investigations” for audit clients. In this capacity, I gained particular insight into how the Big Four assess and respond to allegations of fraud and misconduct arising at audit clients. I developed significant experience ensuring that the audit partner gets the transparency and comfort that he or she needs around the scope, execution and findings of the independent investigation in order to be willing to sign off on the audit without undue delay.

Looking back over your career, what has been the most memorable case you have been a part of?

The first forensic investigation I ever led was personally and professionally transformative, as it allowed me to integrate and leverage a range of skills that I had developed as of that point in time – in my capacity as a former auditor, CFO, and expert witness – to help multiple stakeholders get to truth in a moment of organisational crisis. We were shivering away during the winter months in the poorly heated offices of a public company’s Canadian subsidiary, where we made new and troubling discoveries every few days, including identifying indicia of fraud involving improper and fictitious sales transactions, sale and buyback transactions, improper vendor rebate transactions, and other accounting improprieties. The public company parent had to restate its financials, and two of its c-suite executives were separated shortly thereafter. This was the single most challenging and rewarding assignment that I had experienced as of that point in my career, and what made it even better was that I turned out to be really good at it!

What do clients look for when selecting a forensic accountant?

Investigations can often be quite unpredictable in terms of where the investigation leads and what the ultimate findings will be. Accordingly, clients are often best served by selecting a seasoned forensics expert who has the proven ability to triangulate and analyse multiple sources of data and information – including information from within the four walls of a company and information from public sources – and who has the experience and judgment to quickly identify and effectively communicate the critical implications of his or her findings to multiple stakeholders and from multiple perspectives, including financial reporting, legal, and ethical.

How do you effectively coordinate on cases when working alongside experts with other areas of expertise?

It is important for everyone to understand how their work fits into and supports the larger legal strategy in order to avoid duplicating efforts and to prevent mission-critical action items from being accidentally overlooked.

How does Charles River Associates distinguish itself from the competition?

Clients confirm that we deliver deeper insights more quickly as a result of our commitment to deploying cross-trained teams of experienced forensic professionals. We are excited about our ability to instantly and seamlessly tap into other CRA colleagues worldwide if we need specific additional language, technical or industry knowledge to round out the team.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?

To stay relevant to the market, it is essential to always be looking for opportunities to develop technical skills, industry knowledge, consulting expertise, and the “soft” skills to be able to gather, assess, and communicate important findings with empathy, nuance, and care.