The financial sector has been identified as playing a crucial role in the advancement of sustainable development, as it provides capital that drives industrial activities and economic growth. In recognition of this role and the need to manage environmental and social risks, ten private, international lending institutions developed and adopted a set of voluntary guidelines in 2003, which became known as the Equator Principles. This study aims to assess the factors that influence the adoption of the Equator Principles by South African Financial Institutions. To achieve this, a qualitative research in the form of semi-structured interviews with industry specialists and representatives of four large banks - was undertaken. South African Financial Institutions cited the following as the main driving factors in deciding to adopt the Equator Principles: improvement in risk management and in chances of partaking in syndication loans with other Equator Principles Finance Institutions; and acquiring funding from Development Finance Institutions. Concerns over potential loss of business, as well as increased scrutiny by civil society were raised as constraining factors to the adoption of the Equator Principles. Further research needs to be undertaken in order to determine the actual costs and benefits of adopting the Equator Principles, since South African Finance Institutions have only recently adopted them.