Akintola Williams was the first African to qualify as a chartered accountant.
He founded in 1952 the first indigenous chartered accounting firm indigenous chartered accounting firm indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa, Akintola Williams & Co in Lagos.
He was founding member and first president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and Association of Nigeria. He played in invaluable role in the establishment of the Nigeria. He played an invaluable role in the establishment of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
For his accomplishments, he was honoured with the Order of the Federal Republic by the Nigerian Government in 1982. And in April 1997,Queen Elizabeth also honoured him with the title Commander of the British Empire (CBE).
Williams was born to the family of Ekundayo Williams, a lawyer and farmer who was a son of a wealthy businessman from Abeokuta, Z.A. Williams; his mother, one of the three wives of Ekundayo Williams was from the Fernandez family of Lagos. Williams is a half brother of the late F.R.A. Williams.
Williams started education through private studies and then attended Baptist Academy, Methodist School Olowogbowo and C.M.S. Grammar School, Lagos along with his brother, Frederick Williams, he also went to the Yaba Higher College where he earned a U.A.C. scholarship succeeding other winners such as Ernest Asika and Adegoke Adelabu. After finishing his secondary education and reading commerce at the Higher College, he briefly worked as an assistant secretary with the Church Missionary Society, took examinations for an intermediate bachelor in commerce in the same exam class with Obafemi Awolowo before attending London University and serving the firm Binder Hamlyn & co for his articleship. Initially, for three unfruitful months, he sought a firm to work with for his articleship but was discouraged by the suggestions of many firms that their clients may not like a black accountant working for them.
On returning to Nigeria, he briefly worked as as assessment officer for the inland revenue service. In 1952, he set up his own firm, AW & co, the first chartered accounting firm owned by an African. Though there were already Nigerian owned accounting firms in Lagos none was registered as chartered accountants, a service dominated by expatriate firms. He set up the firm in Obalende after leaving his official quarters at Ikoyi and moving to Obalende. At onset, the accounting firm enjoyed patronage from Dr Folorunsho Salawu, Samuel Fawehinmi‘s furniture factory, West African Pilot, Louis Ojukwu’s transport firm and K.O. Mbadiwe. The establishment of new government corporations generated more clients for Williams’ firm and he enjoyed patronage from the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, Western Nigeria Development Corporation, the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation NRC and the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Regulations in 1968 and in the 1970s, that mandated companies operating in Nigeria to register locally and the indigenization exercise further boosted the firm’s earnings in the 1970s. He retired from the firm in 1983.
In 1960s, he co-founded the Association of Nigerian Accountants which later became the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.
Williams has been honored as an officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR). He was the first gold medalist of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and in 1992, the Howard Business School Association of Nigeria named him businessman of the year. He was also honored as an honourable commander of the order of the British Empire (CBE) and Babcock University gave him a lifetime mentorship award.