Tucker Anthony Sutro is continuing to buy securities and asset management firms and plans to start selling the John Hancock line of life insurance products, in a quest to become an integrated distributor of investment and insurance products.

The Boston firm last week announced that it has agreed to buy the small Richmond, Va., regional brokerage firm of Branch, Cabell & Co. for about $21 million in stock. The purchase — one of at least seven by Tucker Anthony since it went public as a holding company in 1996 — would add to Tucker Anthony’s ability to distribute products, said Kenneth Klipper, its chief financial officer.

The move into distributing life insurance, however, is new for Tucker Anthony, which had been owned by John Hancock Financial before it went public.

While part of Hancock, Tucker Anthony distributed Hancock’s mutual funds along with several other companies’ products, Mr. Klipper said. After Tucker Anthony went independent, it continued to distribute John Hancock’s mutual funds. In recent months it has expanded into permanent insurance.

Since going public, Tucker Anthony has purchased Cleary Gull Investment Management Services in Milwaukee, an investment banking firm; Gibraltar Securities, a fixed-income firm in Florham Park, N.J.; Hill Thompson Magid & Co., a Jersey City-based trader of over-the-counter stocks; Freedom Capital Management Corp., a Boston-based asset management firm; Hopper Soliday, a Philadelphia muni bond firm; and Sutro & Co., a San Francisco regional brokerage.

The holding company’s Tucker Anthony subsidiary has sales agreements for Hancock’s mutual funds as well as its long-term-care products. The Sutro unit recently signed an agreement to sell Hancock’s permanent and term life insurance products.

The Branch Cabell deal is expected to close in early October.

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