The Gateway news round-up: 14 February

Top stories from the worlds of banking, law, consulting and accounting to help boost your commercial awareness

Here's a snapshot of the top finance and legal industry news from the last two weeks. For a more in-depth commentary on claims that the currency markets have been manipulated, whether law firms are doing enough to promote social diversity and why each of the major political parties has a different plan for income tax, look out for this week's issue on stands around your campus and in your careers department.

Banking industry news

UK interest rates to remain low

The Bank of England has announced that UK interest rates are likely to remain low for the foreseeable future. There has been speculation over the past few weeks that they might rise as unemployment in the UK has fallen to around 7 per cent, which had been cited as a trigger for a rise by the Bank. However, governor Mark Carney has now said that the Bank will no longer make interest rate decisions on the basis of a single economic indicator such as unemployment levels. Interest rates are not expected to rise before the general election in May next year.

The world's best mutual fund

A mutual fund called New Horizons is the world's best, according to financial research firm Morningstar. The mutual fund, a pool of cash from multiple sources managed by US-based investment managers T. Rowe Price, gave investors a staggering 49 per cent return on their money last year. The fund's success has been attributed to clever bets on technology companies, including Twitter, Netflix and Groupon. Sadly it's too late to put your student loan into New Horizons, as the fund is now closed to new investors.

Bigger bonuses for Barclays bankers

Barclays has attracted some criticism for increasing its bonus pool by 10 per cent to £2.4 billion, despite the fact that profits for 2013 fell 32 per cent to £5.2 billion. The bank argued that it's forced to continue to pay competitive bonuses in order to attract and retain the best employees across the world. Chief executive Anthony Jenkins, however, will not take the bonus he was in line for, though to have been around £2.6 million.

Legal industry news

City firm to acquire Manchester boutique

City law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse has announced it's to merge with boutique firm Heatons. The commercial law specialist is based in Manchester, and last year reported a profits rise of almost 70 per cent. FFW managing partner Michael Chissick said the acquisition will help grow the firms' presence in the region.

Law graduate apologises for NekNominate video

A law graduate has apologised after taking part in the NekNominate drinking craze sweeping the internet. The 24-year-old graduate, who has ambitions of becoming a commercial lawyer, was forced to apologise after a video was posted online of her drinking a goldfish. In the clip, which has since been taken down, she presented the goldfish to the camera before dropping it into her drink and swallowing it. Let's hope it doesn't cost her a training contract!

Scholarships up for grabs

The University of Law has launched "University of Law Alumni Scholarship Awards", offering three scholarships that cover the total cost of fees. The scholarships are open to students studying the Graduate Diploma in Law, the LLM Legal Practice Course and Bar Professional Training course. Students can apply for the scholarships by submitting a written article explaining why they want to pursue a legal career. For more details on entering and to view videos of the alumni talking about their legal careers go to:

Consulting and accounting industry news

Tax relief for flood victims

With the floods across the UK worsening, HMRC has announced tax relief measures to help those who have been affected. Debt collection proceedings in flood-hit areas have been cancelled, as have penalties for taxpayers who have missed statutory deadlines. Individuals who are struggling to pay their tax as a result of the flooding can negotiate an instalment arrangement, while businesses that have lost important records in the floods will also be given some leeway and be allowed to claim 100 per cent tax relief on business rates for the next three months.

Google gets French tax bill

Search engine Google has been handed a €1 billion (£830 million) tax claim by the French tax authorities after an investigation into their offices in Paris. In an attempt to avoid the high taxes that exist in France, Google had been diverting revenue through intermediaries based elsewhere before finally reporting it in Ireland. However, President Hollande's government has recently begun to clamp down on multinational companies that are shifting their profits out of the company in this manner. A Google spokesman declined to comment on the matter.

"Groundhog day" for audit profession

A report by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has claimed the audit profession is trapped in "its very own groundhog day" as it attempts to regain public trust. Auditors have faced widespread criticism due to their failures to spot banks' bad practices before the financial crisis, and have since been caught in a cycle of increasing regulation to tackle past failures. The ICAEW-supported report recommended that auditors should instead be focusing on increasing the economic, social or environmental value of the organisations they assess.