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Ancora President Fred DiSanto
Ancora President Fred DiSanto

Focus Acquires Cleveland-Based Ancora

Ancora, which recently waged a public proxy battle against Blucora, the parent company of Avantax, becomes the seventh partner firm to join Focus this year.

Ancora Holdings, a Cleveland, Ohio-based investment advisory firm that launched a public proxy battle against Blucora last spring, is the latest firm to join the Focus Financial Partners network, according to an announcement Wednesday. The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, is expected to close in the fourth quarter.  

The firm becomes Focus’s seventh partner firm to join this year and expands Focus’s presence in the Midwest high-net-worth market.

Ancora will continue to operate under its name and maintain its leadership team, led by CEO Fred DiSanto. Ancora manages nearly $9.4 billion across its four RIA entities: Ancora Advisors, which specializes in customized portfolio management for individual investors and institutions; Ancora Family Wealth Advisors, which manages assets on behalf of families and high-net-worth individuals; Ancora Alternatives, which specializes in pooled investments; and Ancora Retirement Plan Advisors, which provides non-discretionary investment guidance for small and mid-sized employer-sponsored retirement plans. Ancora also has a broker/dealer, Inverness Securities.

“Partnering with Focus allows us to maintain our independence while at the same time enhancing our client value proposition,” DiSanto said, in a statement. “We are impressed by Focus' unique approach to partnering with entrepreneurs, and we believe that by leveraging Focus' many resources, we will be able to further accelerate the growth of our business."

Ancora launched a public proxy battle against Blucora, the parent company of Avantax Wealth Management, in mid-March of this year, seeking four seats on the company’s board. Ancora argued the current management team was failing to find promised synergies between Avantax, Blucora's strategic roll-up of tax-focused broker/dealers, including HD Vest and 1st Global, and Blucora's legacy professional tax software business, depressing the stock price. 

The mismanagement was also alienating Avantax's advisors, Ancora said, sending many fleeing for other broker/dealers.

In interviews with WealthManagement.comadvisors who recently left Avantax said service levels suffered, payouts declined and fees rose after Blucora acquired and combined their broker/dealers.

The proxy battle had seen ongoing blows coming from both sides. But in the end, Blucora shareholders voted to reelect all 10 of the company’s existing directors by a wide margin.

Recently, Ancora sent a letter to Blucora's board of directors, putting more pressure on the company to sell its online tax preparation unit, TaxAct.

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