This paper explores how academics and regulators might approach the task of developing a conceptual framework for financial accounting policy. It does so against a backdrop of a short history of accounting thought that lays out approaches that have been taken in the past and evaluates their impact. With the lessons from history recognized, the paper then offers a number of suggestions to be considered as we go forward. Some of these suggestions come from research. Some come from taking a utilitarian perspective on accounting. Some come from observing accounting that voluntarily arises in markets without regulation. The discussion engages with many of the ideas offered in the Conceptual Framework project of the International Accounting Standards Board and the Financial Accounting standards Board, including issues of objectives, "qualitative characteristics," recognition and measurement, and a balance sheet approach versus an income statement approach. But the paper is offered primarily to help academics engage in the important task of developing normative accounting policy.