In this article we describe the use of a multi-objective evolutionary algorithm for portfolio optimisation based on historical data for the S&P 500. Portfolio optimisation seeks to identify manageable investments that provide a high expected return with relatively low risk. We developed a set of metrics for qualifying the risk/return characteristics of a portfolio's historical performance and combined this with an island model genetic algorithm to identify optimised portfolios. The algorithm was successful in selecting investment strategies with high returns and relatively low volatility. However, although these solutions performed well on historical data, they were not predictive of future returns, with optimised portfolios failing to perform above chance. The implications of these findings are discussed. Â© 2012 IEEE.