One of the leading life insurance companies offering variable annuities to RIAs is without a chief operating officer.

David Lau, the COO at Jefferson National Life Insurance for the past nine years, left the company yesterday, Financial Planning has learned.

Jefferson National confirmed that Lau is no longer with the firm. The company does not comment on personnel matters, but "is appreciative of [Lau's] many contributions and wishes him well in his future endeavors," a company spokesperson says.

Jefferson National, a privately held company, specializes in "Monument Advisor" -- a flat-fee variable annuity sold to RIAs and fee-based advisors as well as to investors. Jefferson pioneered the product, but has faced increased competition in the market from such rivals as Jackson National Life Insurance, Prudential and Lincoln Financial Group.

In a statement, Jefferson National says it currently serves over 2,500 advisors, and that Monument Advisor's assets under management surpassed $2.5 billion through the second quarter of 2014. The company said it is targeting $1 billion in sales for 2014, after exceeding $700 million in 2013 and $400 million in 2012.

One source who did not want to be identified said Lau's departure was related to disappointing sales figures and disagreements with chief executive Mitchell Caplan and president Laurence Greenberg over the company's direction.

Jefferson National declined to comment on those assertions.

Lau says he spent nearly a decade building Monument Advisor "from a concept to a billion dollar per year business." During that time, he adds, "I have developed a reputation as an innovative strategist for the marketing and distribution of financial services products to this highly-valued and difficult to reach audience and believe it’s the right time to capitalize on that reputation.

"I have always believed that strong leaders surround themselves with strong people and I leave behind a very capable and talented staff. Jefferson National will always have a fond place in my heart and I wish them nothing but continued success."

Before joining Jefferson National, Lau was a partner at The Oysterhouse Group, an e-commerce consulting company, and consultant at Merrill Lynch, according to his LinkedIn profile. His bio on the Jefferson National website -- which was still up as of mid-afternoon Tuesday -- also says Lau had served as senior VP of operations at E*Trade Bank.

This story has been updated.

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